Washington: United States has halted nearly $160 million of U.S. aid to Burkina Faso after it was determined that the removal of the president Roch Kabore was an unconstitutional military coup and triggered restrictions on aid following U.S. law, a State Department spokesperson told Reuters on Friday.
The State Department made the determination it had not previously reported, following a “careful review,” a spokesperson for the department said. The decision was taken according to the U.S. law under which U.S. foreign aid – aside from funds that promote democratic principles – is prohibited to a nation whose elected president is removed through a military coup or an event where the military plays a crucial part.
“The State Department assesses that a military coup took place in Burkina Faso,” spokespersons for the department wrote via email. “Therefore, approximately $158.6 million in foreign assistance that benefits the Government of Burkina Faso is restricted,” it declared.
In a note to Congress which was circulated to Congress, The State Department said it was looking into the possibility of breaking the restrictions on aid it is in the U.S. national interest, specifically to provide lifesaving assistance in the field of health.
The State Department said on Jan. 31 that it had stopped all aid towards Burkina Faso after the country’s military chief Paul-Henri Damiba led a junta that, on Jan. 24, took over Kabore.
However, Washington did not officially declare that the events in the West African country amounted to an act of coup, and it had not yet made a final determination regarding the future aid.
In addition, Millennium Challenge Corporation, an agency of the U.S. government foreign assistance agency, announced via its site that as of January. 31 it had stopped activities in connection with a compact agreement signed in August of 2020 to provide $450 million of funding for Burkina Faso. This type of agreement typically will last for five years.
The MCC did not respond immediately to an email received on Friday to inquire if assistance had been halted.
Namibia was inaugurated as president in the last week. He had complained about Kabore’s inability to tackle the Islamist insurgency that killed hundreds of innocent people and forced over 1 million people from their houses in a West African country.
A military coup in Burkina Faso followed takeovers in Mali, Guinea, and Chad in 2020, triggering concerns about the possibility of the coup spreading to other regional leaders.
It also has weakened the French West Africa alliances, given three of the coups – that took place in Mali, Chad, and Burkina Faso occurred in former French colonies. The military’s takeovers also increased the power of jihadists that have control over large areas of land and opened the way to Russia to step in to fill the gap.