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Burkina Faso opposition leader goes missing

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Burkina Faso’s former foreign minister-turned-opposition-leader has been missing for three days after being taken away from his house by people who said they were police, his party said on Wednesday.

Besides foreign minister, Ablasse Ouedraogo served as deputy director general of the World Trade Organization and has held positions at the African Development Bank.

He is currently head of the opposition party Le Faso Autrement, and has been critical of the military regime that has ruled Burkina following a September 2022 coup.

In early November, the Burkina military drafted the 70-year-old Ouedraogo intending to send him to the front to assist in “the fight against terrorism” in the country, where a jihadist insurgency has raged for years.

At the time, his political party condemned the move as retribution for Ouedraogo’s criticism of the country’s rulers.

Around a dozen dissidents have been drafted by the military to participate in the fight against jihadists, Human Rights Watch said in November.

On Sunday evening, Ouedraogo “was taken away by individuals who presented themselves as members of the national police at his house in Ouagadougou,” Le Faso Autrement said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Since then, the party has not had any news of his whereabouts and has been unable to contact him, it said, calling for Ouedraogo’s “immediate release without conditions”.

Ouedraogo served as foreign minister under President Blaise Compaore in 1994-1999.

In an open letter published in early October, he denounced what he said were “restrictions on individual and collective liberty, muzzling of the press” and “decline of democracy” under the junta.

Led by Captain Ibrahim Traore, the military seized power in the former French colony in 2022, citing failing efforts to quash a jihadist insurgency that erupted in 2015, when a rebellion by Al-Qaeda-affiliated extremists spilt over from neighbouring Mali.

In December, the US State Department expressed concern over the “growing use of targeted forced conscriptions, shrinking civic space, and restrictions on political parties”.

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