The Transitional Legislative Assembly (TLA) in Burkina Faso has authorized the government to use ordinances in matters of national defence, particularly in the fight against terrorism.
The West African state has been a flashpoint of terrorist attacks for the past seven years, with the country’s Defense and Security Forces (FDS) and Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland (VDP) frequently engaged in desperate battles with the terrorists.
On June 6, 2022, the TLA gave the government near-unlimited powers in its fight against terrorism, with all but one of the lawmakers voting for the bill.
The defence minister Barthélémy Kéré made it clear that the law “is not a blank cheque given to the government”.
“The main objective of the government is to be able to intervene quickly on issues of national defence in the context of the fight against terrorism and the defence of the territory in the sense of regaining the integrity of our territory. It is to see, according to the military analysis of the situation, what can be done urgently to counter the terrorists and defend the civilian population.”
“This law aims to give the government a free hand to intervene on the ground according to a particular threat. It is to allow the government to actively fight against terrorism. This law will allow the government to take the relevant measures to go to the theatre of operations to carry out actions on the territory in accordance with the texts in force. It is to have the means to go head-on against terrorists,” he said.
But the lone lawmaker who objected to the legislation, Dr. Arouna Louré, a member of the TLA said it could potentially subject Parliament to the executive on an issue as critical as national defence.
“In these times of major security crisis, the transitional deputies are not being asked to legislate directly on the issue but to give the government the power to do so.
This bill empowering the government to take measures in the context of the requirements of national defence is a way of weakening the Transitional Legislative Assembly by depriving it of one of its major prerogatives. The adoption of this law is nothing more than saying that we are held in subjugation to the executive,” he said.
The lawmaker also pointed out that the new law which will be applied over a one-year period could potentially curtail people’s basic freedoms.
Meanwhile, the security situation in the country has continued to worsen, with reports that the military killed at least a hundred terrorists within the last three weeks.