Burkina Faso’s interim president, Paul-Henri Damiba, said on Friday that the 36-month transition timeline to democracy could be revised if the security situation improves.
The West African country is facing an insurgency by groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State which have killed thousands and displaced more than 1.7 million people.
“The sooner we manage to curb this situation, the sooner we will begin a return to a normal constitutional order,” Damiba said in a speech to the nation.
The country’s military junta, which seized power in a January coup, has resisted pressure from West African leaders to shorten the timeline to elections to less than three years.
Meanwhile, The United Nations peace keepingf orce in Mali has deployed two units to the African country’s tri-border area with Burkina Faso and Niger to respond to a spate of civilian killings, it said on Thursday.
A surge in attacks since early March by an Islamic State affiliate has left hundreds of civilians dead, according to official and military sources. The region has long been a hotspot of jihadist and militia violence in West Africa.
“The security situation in the Tri-border area…particularly in the localities of Tessit, Talataye, Ansongo and the Menaka region, has deteriorated considerably in recent weeks,” said the U.N. peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA.
MINUSMA deployed one unit to the area over a week ago and was in the process of deploying another on Thursday, it said, adding that the attacks have resulted in “dozens of deaths”.
Civilians have been targeted during a cycle of reprisal attacks between ethnic Tuareg militia groups, including the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA), and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), according to MSA and local sources.
At least 500 civilians have been killed in the last three weeks in the regions of Gao and Menaka, said a military source, requesting anonymity because he was not authorised to speak.
A government official in Gao region said about 200 civilians were killed in the commune of Talataye between March 21 and 25, and thousands more displaced.