TagBurkina Faso

Fragile Security or Fatale Liaisons? Reflections on 2 March 2018 Attacks in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, by Sten Hagberg

On Friday 2 March 2018 around 10 o’clock, two coordinated of terrorist attacks took place in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. The first attack involved gunmen seeking to enter the Embassy of France, exchanging fire with soldiers from Burkinabe and French special forces. Four gunmen were killed in the attack against the Embassy, and no casualties among the special forces. The second attack took place a few minutes later. A vehicle stuffed with explosives detonated at the Chief of Defence staff’s headquarters (État-major des Armées), followed by shootings between attackers and Burkinabe defence forces. Eight Burkinabe militaries were killed together with another four attackers. Moreover, there were many wounded in the headquarters. The car bomb seems to have targeted a high-level meeting of senior military staff of the G5 Sahel Joint Force. The blast destroyed the room where the meeting would have taken place had it not been relocated shortly before the attacks.

In total, the attacks led to 16 deaths, including eight assaulters. The number of wounded people amounted to some 80 persons. Yet in the afternoon the same day, French media outlets held that as many as 30 people had been killed. While this information was rejected by Burkinabe public authorities, and soon turned out to be false, it did fuel rumor and speculation, fear and anxiety. Continue reading

A Burkina Faso where “nothing should be as before”: presidential and legislative elections in perspective By Sten Hagberg

On Sunday 29 November, Burkina Faso organized successful presidential and legislative elections. They marked the end of a one-year-political transition and a step in consolidating the country’s democratic achievements over the last year. There are now opportunities for a veritable democratic breakthrough.

The favorite Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Mouvement du Peuple pour le Progrès (MPP) won 53,49% of the votes cast, followed by Zéphirin Diabré of Union pour le Progrès et le Changement (UPC) who scored 29,65%. The losing candidates were soon to recognize their defeat and congratulate the newly elected president. Most importantly, Diabré accepted the result and did not contest the elections.

In this article written just days after the elections, I put the elections in perspective and discuss opportunities for the newly elected president Kaboré and his government, as well as for the National Assembly. Continue reading

Popular resistance stopped the coup, by Sten Hagberg

Last week, Burkina Faso was breaking international news. In the midst of a government meeting, soldiers of the president’s security forces – the notorious Régiment de Sécurité Présidentielle (RSP) – took President Michel Kafando, Prime Minister Isaac Yacouba Zida and other members of the government in hostage and seized power under the command of General Gilbert Diendéré. The Burkinabe public reacted with anger and resistance. The One-Year Transition in power since the Burkinabe revolution ousted the President Blaise Compaoré from power when he tried to change the constitution and pave the way for a new term now witnessed the return of the phantoms of the past. Continue reading

Burkina Faso: “The return of the Phantoms of the past”, By Sten Hagberg

In the afternoon on Wednesday 16 September 2015, soldiers of the infamous Regiment of the president’s security forces – Regiment de Sécurité Présidentielle (RSP) – entered the Presidential Palace Kosyam where the Government Council meeting was ongoing, and took the government in custody. This is the fourth time during the less than one-year-transition that the RSP threatens and assaults the Transition regime. This time, just a few weeks prior to the presidential and general elections scheduled on 11 October 2015, the RSP’s intervention is an outright attack on the painstaking paths towards a veritable democracy in Burkina Faso. Continue reading

Things are never going to be the same again? Burkina Faso after the brush-up, by Cristiano Lanzano

Plus rien ne sera comme avant (things are never going to be the same again)! The slogan cried by protesters in the streets of Ouagadougou and other cities of Burkina Faso last October, right before the fall of Blaise Compaoré’s regime, appeared here and there in casual conversations – but this time, colored with irony. A power blackout lasting longer than usual, a workers’ strike stopping the distribution of beer all around the country, the new academic year starting with a few months delay: all everyday events and problems could become an opportunity to reflect, joke or complain on what the transitional government (leading the country until new elections scheduled for next October) had, or had not, accomplished.

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Sweeping for Change in the Burkinabe Revolution, by Jesper Bjarnesen

As the dramatic scenes of public protests have given way to political negotiations of the terms of a transition towards new elections in Burkina Faso, the initial reports on events unfolding hour by hour are gradually being replaced by reflections on the overall implications of the overthrow of Blaise Compaoré. Questions are now being asked about the possible spill-over effects of the popular uprising – the possibility of an “African spring”, mirroring the wave of uprisings in Northern Africa in 2011. We might also begin to ask more anthropological questions of the potential for more enduring social and political change in Burkina Faso. Which changes in terms of political participation can the uprising be expected to have? Which actors were the driving forces for the public protests that brought Compaoré’s reign to an end, and are they included in the current negotiations? What has the monopolisation of power by the CDP at the national level meant for ordinary citizens? This brief text suggests some possible answers. Continue reading

Popular Uprising led to Political Turnover in Burkina Faso – Struggles over Legitimacy and Legality, by Sten Hagberg

The last very dramatic days has led to a particularly complicated, and yet, fascinating political process of society and change in Burkina Faso. Even though the popular uprising last week did not come as a surprise for observers of Burkinabe politics, the rapidity of the ending of the 27 years of reign of Blaise Compaoré was unexpected. After years of attempts by Compaoré and his regime to find ways of changing Paragraph 37 of the Constitution, the Burkinabe government finally crossed the Rubicon at its extraordinary council meeting on 21 October 2014 when it took the decision to send the proposed Bill to the National Assembly. This was the ultimate decision that would definitely open for a change of Paragraph 37 and, in practice, allow Compaoré another term, and possibly even up to 15 years more in power. That decision became “a pill too difficult to swallow” (une pilule trop difficile à avaler) for the Burkinabe. Continue reading

Burkina Faso uprising – between popular participation and military intervention, by Cristiano Lanzano

Is this a people’s revolution, or a coup d’état? The uncertain definition of recent events in Burkina Faso, after former president Blaise Compaoré resigned and the army announced they would take control of a transitional phase and suspend the constitution, is not only haunting international press but also lingering in the internal debate. These are confusing days. Politicians from the opposition have stated that “the army has confiscated our revolution” and asked people to demonstrate in order to put pressure on the military forces, asking for a civil transition toward the next elections. On the opposite side, representatives of Balai Citoyen (“the civic broom”, a youth movement created about one year ago and represented publicly by local well-known artists like reggaeman Sams’k Le Jah or rapper/singer Smockey), the main actor in the organization of recent demonstrations, on the opposite side, have confirmed for the moment their cautious support to the idea of the army managing the transition, and suspect the opposition parties of trying to appropriate a mass movement that they have not created in the first place. Indeed, the opposition parties have been quite hesitant in questioning Compaoré’s regime, at least until recently.
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