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Burkina Faso: Compaoré may have disappeared, but the state he created remained alive and well – and violently resistant to change. #Africa September 17, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Burkina Faso.
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???????????Daily Maverick

Burkina Faso: The sting in the tail of the counter-revolution

SIMON ALLISON, DAILY MAVERICK

17 SEP 2015

simon-burkina-faso-coup.jpg

When the much-feared Presidential Guard stormed into a cabinet meeting to arrest Burkina Faso’s interim President and Prime Minister, we should not have been surprised. Until now, the country’s revolution has been – superficially at least – a little too clean, a little too orderly. In hindsight, another setback was always inevitable. By SIMON ALLISON.

As revolutions go, Burkina Faso’s was relatively tidy. President Blaise Compaoré chose not to fight to the death, scurrying into exile instead; and while violence was used to disperse popular protests, the casualty count remained in the single digits.

But as always, things behind the scenes were a lot more complicated. While interim President Michel Kafando was a civilian, his Prime Minister, Lieutenant Colonel Zida, was drawn from the upper echelons of the elite presidential guard (theRégiment de sécurité présidentielle, or RSP), the primary enforcers of the Compaoré regime. The army, meanwhile, continued to play a major role in political affairs ahead of the general election scheduled for 11 October.

Compaoré may have disappeared, but the state he created remained alive and well – and violently resistant to change.

These tensions exploded into the open on Wednesday, when members of the presidential guard stormed a cabinet meeting and arrested both President Kafando and Prime Minister Zida. State television and radio were taken off air. Nervous citizens stayed at home in anticipation of more trouble, and shops have closed their doors.

On Thursday, the RSP confirmed everyone’s worst fears: this was more than just intimidation tactics. This was a coup. In a public address, a military official said that the interim government had been disbanded, to be replaced with “a national democracy council tasked with organising democratic and inclusive elections” – whatever that means.

Two things prompted this sudden escalation in hostilities. First was the government’s decision to exclude members of the Compaore regime from contesting the upcoming elections. In the statement, the military said that this was not inclusive or democratic and therefore provided legitimate grounds for a coup. It is likely that Compaore’s former party, the Congress for Democracy and Progress, either supported or played a role in orchestrating the coup (tellingly, its leaders have refused to condemn the coup).

Second, and probably more pertinent, was the recommendation by the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission to disband the RSP. This represented an existential threat to the very institution that has now seized power.

“The presidential guard has always been the backbone of power, and within the new political dispensation the new political authorities have made it clear they want to reduce the influence of that unit within the army, if not suppress it completely,” said David Zounmenou, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies.

Leading the campaign against the RSP was Prime Minister Zida, who went from the unit’s second-in-command to its most vociferous opponent. It is likely that personal animosity between Zida and General Gilbert Diendéré, the head of the unit, is also a factor in the current unrest. Although General Diendéré tends to avoid the spotlight, he was often described as Compaore’s right-hand man, or the power behind the throne.

Attention turns now to what comes next. Will the military really organise new elections? Who will take charge in the meantime? And will the people of Burkina Faso – who have already removed one leader through popular protests – accept the takeover?

“Unconfirmed rumours are that General Diendéré would be the new man in power, even if behind the scenes,” said Eloïse Bertrand, a researcher with the University of Warwick and an expert on Burkinabé politics. “The population, however, seems ready to resist this new coup, and I really think there is a wide consensus against the RSP. I think there is a real possibility that things will become violent as the coup leaders seem to have nothing to lose, and would probably repress violently massive protests.” Already, Reuters reported that soldiers fired warning shots to disperse a crowd of more than 100 people gathered in Ouagadougou’s Independence Square on Thursday morning.

Another important question concerns Compaoré himself. If his allies are calling the shots, is the exiled leader likely to return?

“While the RSP is definitely linked to the Compaoré regime, I would be very shocked to see a return of Compaoré himself. History demonstrates that once a military leader has taken power, he is unlikely to hand it to another leader. Therefore, while this is possibly a counter-revolution – or as I would prefer, a ‘counter-coup’ – in that it has returned power to the bloc that previously ruled the country, I do not foresee the return of Compaoré, or the return of democracy,” said Frank Charnas, Daily Maverick contributor and CEO of risk analysis firm Afrique Consulting.

Charnas added: “This coup places the international community in a precarious position. Kafando and Zida were not democratically elected, and while they were set to hold elections in the near future, their mandate was no more legitimate than that of the coup leaders. As was demonstrated following the overthrow of Compaoré, the international community is unlikely to take any concrete action beyond public denouncement of the coup.” DM

Read more at:-

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2015-09-17-burkina-faso-the-sting-in-the-tail-of-the-counter-revolution/#.VfqsXdJVikq

https://donvely.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/burkina-faso-military-confirms-coup/

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Power: A curse to a nation but A drug to a Leader May 31, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Colonizing Structure, Corruption in Africa, Sham elections.
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???????????TPLF in electoral fraud, 24 May 2015Is the age of Africa's political big man nearing an end

Is the age of #Africa’s political ‘ big man syndrome’ nearing an end? Burundi’s turmoil points to a shifting social and political landscape. #Ethiopia. #Oromia May 21, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Africa Rising, Burkina Faso.
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Burundi’s turmoil points to a shifting social and political landscape

Clár Ní Chonghaile,   The Guardian, Thursday 21 May 2015
Analysts see the upheaval in Burundi as symptomatic of a public craving for principled politics and an end to the era of the autocratic statesman

Is the age of Africa's political big man nearing an end

The upheaval in Burundi may bear many of the hallmarks of a classic African military coup but, for some analysts, the crisis is indicative of a newfound public hunger for good governance, and a reaction against administrations run by political strongmen who cloak repression in the trappings of democracy.

As global leaders work on the sustainable development goals (SDGs), a blueprint for governing development over the next 15 years, young people in Burundi are making their own demands, of their leaders as well as international donors.

Their appeals for democracy and abuse-free institutional processes mirror the call in SDG 16 to promote the rule of law, ensure equal access to justice, and develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions.
Burundi refugees say there is no turning back as fears grow of reprisals at home.

Burundi’s crisis began in late April after the ruling CNDD-FDD party nominated President Pierre Nkurunziza to run for a third term in the country’s June elections, despite a two-term constitutional limit. Protesters took to the streets and clashed with police.

Then, on 13 May, Major General Godefroid Niyombare told reporters that he had dismissed the president. The attempted coup was short-lived, however, and Niyombare is now on the run. Nkurunziza is back in charge, and fears of reprisals are widespread.

Rights groups say at least 20 people have been killed and more than 110,000 Burundians have fled to neighbouring countries, raising fears of a “severe humanitarian crisis”.

Some observers predict a drawn-out period of uncertainty and violence, with particular risks for opposition activists and the media. Protests continued on Wednesday, while the government said local and parliamentary elections would be delayed for a week but the presidential elections would go ahead as planned on 26 June.

Some elements of the crisis – the timing of the coup to coincide with the president’s absence at a regional summit, the fear of ethnic tensions exploding – seem to hark back to Burundi’s unstable past. But Jesper Bjarnesen, senior researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, says the dynamic is different this time.

Bjarnesen visited the Burundian capital Bujumbura recently and met with young activists who style themselves “the Arusha generation”, a nod to the peace accords that, in 2005, brought an end to a 12-year civil war between Hutu rebels and the mainly Tutsi army.

For these activists, ethnicity is no more the issue than Nkurunziza himself: rather, they feel the president has violated the constitution.

“It’s about political principles,” says Bjarnesen. “That is remarkable. It’s not that long ago that ethnicity was in many ways the … defining split. What I got from [the activists] was this sense that formal politics are just not a useful medium for those not in power.”

Yolande Bouka, a researcher in conflict prevention and risk analysis at the Institute for Security Studies, says Burundi’s government has long shown a disdain for the Arusha peace accords that has chipped away at trust between political actors.

The protestors and the opponents to Nkurunziza’s third term are trying to evoke an African spring
Jesper Bjarnesen, senior researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute
“Should the conflict drag on and erode inter-ethnic trust … it is possible to see a flare-up of ethnic tensions,” says Bouka, adding that the international community should have acted sooner on warning signs that the authorities were cracking down on dissent after the 2010 elections.

Nkurunziza is not alone in attempting to use almost absolute political power to extend his rule. Next door, Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, is said to be considering another term despite a two-term limit. Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, already one of Africa’s longest serving leaders, has already changed the constitution to allow him to run again.

There are more cautionary tales. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila was forced to withdraw a bill seen as an attempt to extend his term after protests in January. Nkurunziza may also be mindful of Burkina Faso’s former president, Blaise Compaoré, one of Africa’s longest serving leaders, who was forced from office after he tried to change the constitution and run for another term.

End of Africa’s ‘big men’?
The idea that the “big man” model of rule is running out of steam may be gaining traction among the continent’s leaders.

At a regional summit this week, west African heads of state discussed a proposal to limit presidential mandates. The proposal was rejected because of opposition from Gambia and Togo, where there are no term limits, Reuters reported. But the discussion did not go unnoted.

“The protestors and the opponents to Nkurunziza’s third term are trying to evoke an African spring, with Burkina Faso setting the precedent. They are trying to use public protests to end a regime that has used both legal and illegal ways of reinforcing its grip on power,” says Bjarnesen.
Burundi unrest leaves 50,000 refugees facing dire conditions in Tanzania.

Thierry Vircoulon, project director for central Africa at the International Crisis Group, says Burundi’sproblems are in the 2010 elections, which most opposition parties boycotted.

“The first mandate of President Nkurunziza was about the consolidation of his power within the ruling party, and his second mandate was about the consolidation of his grip over the institutions and the preparation of his third mandate. This is a pattern that we see in a lot of post-conflict regimes in the region,” says Vircoulon.

A former Belgian colony, Burundi is one of Africa’s poorest countries, ranking 180 out of 187 states in the 2014 UN human development index. It relies on foreign aid for half its national budget. Britain’s Department for International Development ended bilateral aid in 2012, and has been criticised by a parliamentary committee for doing so.

Bjarnesen says that while donors are in a catch-22 situation, suspending assistance will only hurt the poorest. This month, the EU said it would withhold €2m ($2.2m) of aid, while Belgium also announced a suspension of electoral aid.

“Cutting aid in itself just does not work,” says Bjarnesen. “The threat now of cutting funding to the elections, who is that serving?”

For Bjarnesen, elections now would be devastating for the opposition but perhaps palatable to international partners – a situation that encapsulates an ideological tug-of-war between the merits of stability versus true democracy.

“To a large extent, the international community would rather have some sort of elections and then relative stability rather than continued political instability with the threat of conflict,” he says.

“That’s the biggest weakness of the response from the international community: it’s so short-sighted and focused on visible symptoms … whereas what is actually keeping the status quo is this kind of structural violence that has been in place since Nkurunziza came to power.”

Bjarnesen is critical of “international lenience” towards African governments. “The argument would be these are young democracies, they need time to develop … I think that moment has passed. I don’t see any reason why you would measure democracy in Burundi against standards other than those you use in the UK or Sweden.”

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/may/21/burundi-turmoil-shifting-social-political-landscape#comments

Africa Rising: From Burkina Faso to Burundi, Africa’s Cheetah Generation rises against corrupt and failed rule. #TPLF. #Ethiopia May 12, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Corruption in Africa, Dictatorship.
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Ocheetas

The greatest crisis facing Africa is a leadership crisis in all areas of people activity.In terms of natural resources, Africa is the world’s richest continent. It has 50% of the world’s gold, most of the world’s diamonds and chromium, 90% of the cobalt, 40% of the world’s potential hydroelectric power, 65% of the manganese, millions of acres of untilled farmland, as well as other natural resources.   Yet, despite this vast resource the bulk of African people live as if they were citzens of deserts. Despite being home to millions of skilled and talented innovators, African leadership struggles to stimulate and retain it strongest resource — the people: They either live in unnecessary frustration, hopelessness and poverty, die of preventable disease, or run to the West to gain appreciation. The greatest crisis in Africa is not due to HIV, religion, or famine, or even war. Because all of those things are tied to leadership in some capacity. The failure to produce an African brand from the billions of tons of raw material Africa exports to the West, is primarily due to the Faustian, myopic, selfish, backward type of non-progressive leaders who are planted as candidates in post-colonial empires. Top traits are either naive, vision-less, proxy implants, opportunistic/parasitic and totally compromised.

– African Holocaust Society

http://www.africanholocaust.net/news_ah/africanleadership.html

“The Cheetah Generation refers to the new and angry generation of young African graduates and professionals, who look at African issues and problems from a totally different and unique perspective. They are dynamic, intellectually agile, and pragmatic. They may be the ‘restless generation’ but they are Africa’s new hope. They understand and stress transparency, accountability, human rights, and good governance. They also know that many of their current leaders are hopelessly corrupt and that their governments are contumaciously dysfunctional and commit flagitious human rights violations.” George Ayittey, the distingushed Ghanaian economist.
 http://theafricaneconomist.com/ethiopia-2013-year-of-the-cheetah-generation/#.VVHnoI5Viko
 From Burkina Faso to Burundi, jobless young Africans rise against corrupt and failed rule

Pauline Bax,  Bloomberg

TALL ORDER: An extra 450 million jobs need to be created in the next 20 years to match expansion in the number of working-age people in the region.
Young people without opportunities are getting angry all over Africa - and there are hundreds of millions of them. (Photo/AFP).

PROTESTS from Burkina Faso to Burundi have been sparked by youthful populations with little hope of employment and by leaders who have in some cases ruled for decades.

The discontent, which began in Burkina Faso in October, spread to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in January, and has now crossed the continent to Burundi, prompting regional leaders to call an emergency meeting after two weeks of protests and at least 14 deaths. Mass demonstrations in Burkina Faso ended Blaise Compaore’s 27 years in power.

“Underpinning a lot of these protests is anger about stalled development, rising food prices and cutting fuel subsidies,” Clive Gabay, an expert on African politics at the Queen Mary University of London, said. “You have this youthful, unemployed population that has been sidelined.”

While sub-Saharan Africa has grown faster than every region except developing Asia in the past 10 years, there aren’t enough jobs for the 1 billion people on the continent. An extra 450 million jobs need to be created in the next 20 years to match the expansion in the number of working-age people in the region, the International Monetary Fund said last month.

About 40% of people in Africa are under 15 years old, the most of any region, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The unemployment rate for people 15 to 25 years old living in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, is three times higher than the rest of the working population, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Rwanda President Paul Kagame has warned that the violence in neighbouring Burundi threatens stability in East Africa. Youth have led two weeks of protests to prevent President Pierre Nkurunziza from seeking a third term in office next month. The Constitutional Court approved his request, despite the opposition claiming it violates a 15-year-old peace agreement that sets a two-term limit.

Protest risk

The nations that will likely watch closely what happens in Burundi are those with elections scheduled in the next two years, Yolande Bouka, a researcher on conflict prevention at the Institute for Security Studies in Johannesburg, said. Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania and Uganda all have polls during that period.

There is “serious discontent with the type of governance offered by the leaders,” Bouka said. Given the large youth population and unemployment rate “it is not surprising that people take the street to address unresponsive government.”

Burundi ranks eighth-lowest on the United Nations Human Development Index, which measures indicators such as income, child mortality and education. Congo is second-to-last on the 190-member list.

“In many countries it’s a risky thing to go on a protest and you’re not going to risk getting arrested or shot unless there’s something real at stake,” Gabay said. “There’s something else that’s propelling people onto the street and for me they’re economic issues.”

https://magic.piktochart.com/embed/6055699-africa-bombUsing social media like Twitter and Facebook, young activists can mobilise faster than in years gone by and can collaborate across borders. The movements in Congo and Burkina Faso draw inspiration from Senegalese artists, who began protests in 2011 against power outages. The Senegalese movement was key in mobilising youth to vote President Abdoulaye Wade, who had ruled for 12 years, out of power a year later.

Demonstrations erupted in Congo in January when lawmakers tried to change electoral laws in a way that could have delayed elections. That would have extended the 14-year rule of President Joseph Kabila, who took over when his father was assassinated in 2001.

Congolese activists met with artists and musicians from Senegal and Burkina Faso in March. The police arrested them in the Congolese capital and accused them of “promoting violence.” Kabila, who faced criticism from Human Rights Watch, said he will not run for office next year.

Presidents for life

While there are countries in sub-Saharan Africa with leaders who have been in power for more than three decades, including Zimbabwe, Angola and Equatorial Guinea, political opposition there says they are suppressed.

Rwanda’s Kagame, who has been president since 2000, also hasn’t faced popular opposition as he says he is open to staying another term. Parliament is reviewing a petition signed by 2 million people who support changing the constitution to allow for a third term.

“African people are tired of presidents who aren’t delivering to their people and they’re tired of presidents who want to stay for life,” Thierry Vircoulon, Central Africa director for the International Crisis Group, said by phone. “There’s a sort of exasperation because governments aren’t delivering.”

-With assistance from David Malingha Doya in Nairobi and Michael J. Kavanagh in Kinshasa.

http://m.mgafrica.com/article/2015-05-11-from-burkina-to-burundi-jobless-young-africans-rise-against-corrupt-and-failed-rule#.VVHSKY5Vikp

The Civic Broom movement: How Burkina Faso rediscovered a revolutionary hero—and overthrew a dictator. #Africa December 5, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Burkina Faso, Corruption, Free development vs authoritarian model, Revolution 2.0.
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O

 

 

 

 

Call it a coup or a revolution—Burkina Faso has finally overthrown its longtime strongman Blaise Compaoré. During his 27-year-long rule, Compaoré’s regime was accused of corruption and nepotism and of violently quelling a student and military rebellion in 2011.

Revolutions now happen in real time and Compaoré’s overthrow was no different. This October, protestors, journalists and politicians used the hashtags #Lwili and #Burkina to live-tweet their way through a chain of events that started with massive street protests and ended with a cellphone video of Compaoré fleeing the country with his convoy of SUVs.

The digital connection between Burkinabé youth activists—who dubbed the protests “Revolution 2.0,”—their diaspora, and supporters in the West led to a flurry of online interest in Burkina Faso.

Images showing streets and squares flooded by demonstrators, many of whom were women brandishing wooden spatulas, a local symbol of gender defiancewere shared thousands of times on Twitter and Instagram.

https://twitter.com/joepenney/status/526731837142753280

Alongside international focus in Burkina Faso has been a resurgence of interest in the man many protesters credit as their inspiration—Thomas Sankara.

Overthrown and murdered in Compaoré’s 1987 coup, Sankara has long been revered by African nationalists and leftists for his charismatic blend of revolutionary zeal and progressive philosophy. President of the country for four years between 1983 and 1987, Sankara has only a few interviews and speeches attributed to him—yet his legacy is far larger. Today, his message is finding a new, broader of pool of admirers in the social media generation both in Burkina Faso and abroad.

https://twitter.com/AdeolaFayehun/status/530910177516863488

https://twitter.com/Vusani_/status/538200333714219008

https://twitter.com/CedricMcCay/status/539867151247900672

As president, he changed the name of the country from the colonial Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, which means “land of upright people” in an amalgam of the country’s most popular languages. A guitarist, he wrote the national anthem, a stirring ode against neo-imperialism.

Coat of arms of Burkina Faso 1984-1991

Coat of arms of Burkina Faso 1984-1991(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

And the phrase on the lips of protesters this summer—“La patrie ou la mort, nous vaincrons,” (homeland or death, we shall overcome)—was on the national crest during his tenure.

One of the popular movements behind Compaoré’s recent ouster—Le Balai Citoyen or The Civic Broom movement—was led by two self-professed Sankarist musicians, who spread their message of “sweeping clean” Burkina politics through social media, a number of popular songs, and large political gatherings. In May they held a rally with the political opposition that filled a 35,000 capacity stadium.

https://www.facebook.com/CitoyenBalayeur/posts/403389569816903

Sankara was famous for his stance against repayment of African debts and his advocacy of economic self-reliance. Under him, Burkina Faso accomplished massive child immunizations, started a national campaign to fight desertification by planting 10 million trees, banned female circumcision and forced marriage, and had a government with women in high positions.

Feminist activist Minna Salami, one of Applause Africa’s “40 African Changemakers under 40,″ has been writing about Thomas Sankara on her influential Ms. Afropolitan blog since 2010. For her, discovering the works of Sankara was a revelation.

“Like other young women of African heritage—and men as well— I thought, why did I not know about this person?” she told Quartz. “Why are we so many millions of miles away from the vision he had for the African continent?”

It’s unclear what will happen next in Burkina Faso. After seizing power when Compaoré fled, the military agreed to form an interim government that will run the country until elections in Nov. 2015. The new prime minister, former military leader, Isaac Zida has vowed to repatriate Compaoré, stamp out corruption and launch an inquiry into Sankara’s 1984 death.

Since the Compaoré’s ouster, neighboring Togo (#tginfo) and nearby Chad have seen large demonstrations with protestors invoking Burkina Faso as a roadmap to unseating their own long-term autocratic leaders just like the Burkinabé activists credited the movement that ousted Senegal’s Wade before them.

You can follow Aaron on Twitter at @aaronleaf. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.  

Read more @ http://qz.com/305056/how-burkina-faso-rediscovered-a-revolutionary-hero-and-overthrew-a-dictator/

Burkina Faso: The downfall of another tyrant in Africa is a ‘warning alarm’ to the rests of tyrants. #TPLF #Ethiopia November 14, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Burkina Faso, Corruption, Corruption in Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, The Tyranny of Ethiopia, Youth Unemployment.
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O

 

 

“President Compaoré, like many African Heads of State, was more interested in clinging to power than in the needs of his people.”

 

Burkina Faso: The downfall of another tyrant in Africa

Albert Mbiatem

http://www.pambazuka.net/en/category/features/93350

The recent popular revolution in Burkina Faso and the resignation of President Blaise Compaoré has emerged as a ‘warning alarm’ to African tyrants who are bent on eternalising themselves in power. The political crisis in Burkina Faso could be seen as a ‘call for attention’ to the presidents of Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo and Rwanda who intend to amend their respective constitutions in order to become eligible for a third mandate.[1]

Presented by some Western states (France and the United States) as an effective mediator in resolving regional crises, Compaoré has just failed to prevent and resolve the political crisis in his own country. The Burkinabe people chose to oust Compaoré during the month of October, just as he ousted President Thomas Sankara in October, 27 years earlier. With the complicity of France, Compaoré took power in 1987 by eliminating a Sankara, a transformational leader. Sankara and thirteen collaborators were killed during the coup.[2] The result was that a committed head of state was replaced by a ruler responsive only to the interests of the former colonial power.

During his rule, Compaoré set up a political system largely unresponsive to people’s needs, wants and aspirations. For almost three decades, the Burkinabe people witnessed a high level of corruption, poverty, injustice, a high unemployment rate and a repressive political system. Civil rights and the freedom of the press were undermined. One of the most gruesome examples of this came on December 13th 1998, when the charred bodies of journalists Norbert Zongo and three of his friends were found in their vehicle 100km south of Ouagadougou.[3] The President’s brother, Francois Compaoré, was a prime suspect. Unequal resource distribution has also been one of the main causes of persistent popular disenchantment. According to World Bank statistics from 2012, 46% of the population still lives below the poverty line.[4]

President Compaoré, like many African Heads of State, was more interested in clinging to power than in the needs of his people. Modifying the constitution to stay in power became the ultimate goal for Compaoré. Article 37 of the constitution of Burkina Faso stipulates that ‘the president of Faso is elected for five years by direct universal suffrage in a secret ballot. He can only be re-elected once’. Elected in 2005 and again in 2010, Blaise Compaoré could not stand for re-election without amending this article. On October 21st 2014, Compaoré announced his intention to hold a referendum which, if it went his way, would give him the power to amend the constitution and stand for a fifth presidential term.[5] A wave of popular disapproval spread throughout the country, incorporating both the opposition party and large sections of civil society.

On 30th October, when the amendment of the constitution was due to be debated in parliament, the Burkinabe people stormed into the parliament building and destroyed it.

The weakening of the regime in Ouagadougou not only came from the discontent of civil society but also from perennial mutinies in the army. In 1999 soldiers protested about the payment of their bonuses. In 2011 there was another mutiny, coinciding with civil unrest. Despite the fact that Compaoré at that time added the role of Minister of Defense to his presidential portfolio, the regime continued to show signs of weakness.[6] The relatively low degree of retaliation by the armed forces with regard to the uprisings of 28-30th October show the persistent discontent within the ranks.

Another problem for Compaoré was his firm belief in protecting his ‘Western friends’ above all else – France and the USA. He thus gave little attention to the famous phrase vox populis, vox Dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God). The victories of popular revolutions over tyrannical regimes across the world provide enough evidence to argue that ultimate power lies in the hands of the people.

As we look towards the future, there are several questions to consider: What kind of political future will Burkina Faso have? Will the country undergo the kind of political controversies witnessed in Tunisia and Egypt after the respective downfalls of Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak? As the former second in command of Compaoré’s presidential guard, will Lieutenant Colonel Zida ensure a transparent transition? Does the military’s ascendance to the helm of the state undermine the intention of the revolution to free the people from tyranny? Is it not high time for the African Union to actively intervene in favour of a peaceful and consensual transition in Burkina Faso?

It is not easy to find specific answers to these questions since the situation on the ground is evolving all the time. But it is high time for the leaders in Burkina Faso to recognise leadership as a process of interaction between leaders and followers. Leaders must be aware and responsive to societal needs. The structure of the transition should be consensually determined by the Burkinabe people in such a way that all the strata of society are taken into account. In this context, a consensual civilian government would be the appropriate structure for an effective democratic transition. As the main political organisation on the continent, the African Union must effectively encourage a peaceful transition in ‘the land of incorruptible people’, as Sankara once called Burkina Faso, before he was deposed by the eminently corruptible Compaoré.

* Albert Mbiatem is a fellow of the African Leadership Centre, King’s College London. He is currently on attachment at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) in Addis Ababa. He is also a research assistant at the University of Buea in Cameroon. This article was first published on Strife blog.

REFERENCES

Radio France Internationale, Revue de Presse. 31 October, 2014.
[1] Bonkoungou, M. (2007) “Burkina Faso Salutes “Africa’s Che” Thomas Sankara”. Reuters, 17 October 2007. And Radio France Internationale, October 27, 2008.
[2] International Crisis Group “Burkina Faso: With or Without Compaoré, Times of Uncertainty” Africa Report N°205, 22 July 2013.
[3] World Factbook and the World Bank. 2012.
[4] Le Figaro, “Au Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré Rêve Encore de Pouvoir”. 22 October 2014.
[5] Crisis Group Interview, International Military Official, Ouagadougou, September 2011.

Read more @ http://www.pambazuka.net/en/category/features/93350