The new president of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, vowed to make security his priority on Monday after he took the helm of the troubled Sahel country for a second term.
“I intend to win the wager of providing security and stability for our country and ensure displaced people return to their homes,” the 63-year-old said after taking the oath of office at a sports stadium in the capital Ouagadougou before 10 African heads of state and 1,200 guests.
Kabore acknowledged the scale of damage wrought by jihadists, who extended their campaign from neighbouring Mali in 2015.
At least 1,200 people have been killed and a million of Burkina’s population of 20.5 million have fled their homes. Swathes of the country are out of the government’s control.
“These last five years, our country has been targeted by armed terrorist groups, whose actions have disrupted our search for development, our social unity and our communal life,” Kabore said.
He vowed to launch a “broad consultation” in the coming months over “setting down ways towards national conciliation”.
It would take into account “political, economic and blood crimes that, from (independence from France in) 1960 to this very day have continued to poison relationships.”
Kabore, first elected in 2015, won a landslide 57.74 percent of the vote on November 22, obviating the need for a runoff.
His inauguration was attended by several opposition candidates who initially claimed that the vote was flawed before acknowledging Kabore’s victory.
They included opposition leader Eddie Komboigo, head of ousted president Blaise Compaore’s party.
Compaore was chased out of office in 2014 by a public revolt.
He took refuge in Ivory Coast but remains subject to an arrest warrant issued under an investigation into the assassination of charismatic leader Thomas Sankara in 1987.
Compaore’s 27-year reign is regarded fondly by many Burkinabe, who recalls it as a time of stability and see Kabore as being too slow to respond to the jihadist threat.
Komboigo picked up a sizeable 15 per cent of the presidential vote and his party placed second in legislative elections that were also held on November 22.
Kabore’s MPP party won 56 out of 127 seats in the National Assembly, meaning that he will have once more to forge a coalition to govern.