The African Union announced Friday it was suspending Burkina Faso over Thursday\’s military coup, which has halted preparations for the west African nation\’s first democratic election.
Following a meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa, the 54-member pan-African bloc said the country was suspended "with immediate effect", and slapped a travel ban and asset freeze on the junta leaders.
"The Council decided in accordance with the instrument we have in place to suspend Burkina Faso from all activities of the Union with immediate effect," Uganda\’s ambassador to the AU, Mull Katende, told reporters.
He also described the kidnapping of the country\’s interim leaders as a "terrorist" act which should be "addressed a such by the entire international community."
The AU Peace and Security Council also ordered all member states to impose a "travel ban and asset freeze on all members of the so-called National Committee for Democracy", which declared the coup, and for for a list of its leaders to be compiled and circulated so they can be officially condemned as "terrorist elements".
In addition, it said it would consult with the West African Monetary Union "with the view to denying… the perpetrators access to the resources of the West African state\’s central bank," and urged "all bilateral and multilateral partners to suspend all military and security cooperation programmes as well as economic cooperation programmes.
"All measures taken by those who took power by force in Burkina Faso are null and void. The AU shall not recognise nor support any process conducted outside of the transition. The Council demands a return to status quo ante in Burkina Faso," Katende added.
Burkina Faso was preparing to hold its first democratic election in decades before the coup, led by allies of the former president, threw it into turmoil.
The presidential and legislative elections were supposed to mark the end of the transitional government, installed after president Blaise Compaore was toppled in a popular uprising in October 2014 after 27 years in power.
The uprising was triggered by his attempt to extend rule over the poverty-striken country.
An elite army unit — Compaore\’s powerful Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) — seized power after complaining the transitional government was excluding the ex-president\’s supporters in upcoming October 11 polls.
They also kidnapped the country\’s interim president Michel Kafando, Prime Minister Isaac Zida and two ministers, declared a curfew and shut the borders.
On Friday the coup leaders announced they had released interim president Kafando, but said Zida remains under house arrest.
The coup has already been condemned by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the AU and United Nations, who said in a joint statement on Thursday that they rejected "the disruption of the democratic process".
The European Union, the United States and former colonial power France have also denounced the junta.