Conscription of critics sparks concern in Burkina Faso

A debate has been sparked in Burkina Faso after three civil society leaders were forcibly conscripted into so-called volunteer regiments to fight jihadist militias in the country.

It all started when junta leader, President Ibrahim Traoré, visited Kaya – a city about 100km (62 miles) north-east of the capital, Ouagadougou a few days after a water plant that supplied the area came under attack.

The president announced that a local civil society activist – who had been upset about the attack and had criticised the lack of security in the region – was being conscripted to join the armed “volunteers”.

In Ouagadougou several days later, two other civil society figures called a press conference where they criticised the lack of progress in the fight against the jihadists and called for the dissolution of the government. They too were conscripted.

In the streets of the capital, residents remain divided on the situation.

The authorities say they are working hard to unite the security forces while human rights defenders fear that freedom of expression is in danger.

Volunteer fighters have been called upon in recent years as Burkina Faso’s dire security situation worsens.



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