What’s Going On In Burkina Faso and How Might It Influence Politics Across Africa?

What on Earth is going on in Burkina Faso? This relatively small, landlocked country, which was off most people’s radars up until last week, has suddenly emerged as a beacon of hope for a number of African states.

This is because on October 28, protesters thronged the streets of Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, and literally burned down Parliament. The protests were prompted by the then-President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré’s attempt to expand his term limits, despite the fact he had already been in power for 27 years. Compaoré escaped to the Ivory Coast not long after, resigning from his post as President.

There were raucous cheers in the streets, but they didn’t last long. Soon after the President left the country, the military took over the situation. First they installed a senior military officer named Honoré Nabéré Traoré who deployed massive armed caravans to shut down any riots in the street. Well, the citizens hardly stood for that, and it wasn’t long until another senior military leader, Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida, ousted Traoré and was put in charge of managing the country.

Still with me? President overthrown, military leader put in power, military leader overthrown, new military leader in power.

Yet if you think the now-emboldened citizens of Burkina Faso would agree to a simple military takeover, you’d be wrong. They took to the streets again, this time amidst gunfire, calling Zina a Judas. One demonstrator told a reporter that he was out in the streets protesting to “stop the army from stealing our victory.” One person is reported to have been killed by government gunfire during the protests.

Now surrounding governments and the African Union are calling for a swift handover to civilian rule. They are looking to install a civilian as the interim leader before holding elections next year. Yet, of course, nothing is ever that simple.

While the AU and West African governments debated on who was fit to serve, some are demanding that those from the former president’s political party be banned. Meanwhile, Zida has said that while he’s willing to hand over power to civilians, he is not concerned by deadlines that the AU puts in place, as the AU, he states, has let his people down in the past.

Now members of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) are saying that if Zida fails to comply, sanctions, travel restrictions and expulsion from the African Union could be in the military leader’s future.

Much of the African world is watching the situation unfold in Burkina Faso with a mix of excitement and fear. Although in the past few years, peaceful and democratic elections have taken place in a number of African nations, the 20+ year President is still a reality for many.

Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Uganda and Angola all currently have leaders who have been in office more than 25 years. While some feel there is stability in long serving ‘benevolent’ dictators (and that argument does have some merit), those who hunger for change and democracy are now watching as the situation unfolds in Burkina Faso.

If revolution is possible for them, with minimal casualties (and so far the list of those killed in the riots and fires is fairly low) could this be achieved to oust leaders like Robert Mugabe and Paul Biya?

The next few weeks in Burkina Faso will likely either inspire democratic movements across the African continent or stamp out the embers of hope in peaceful revolutions.

For a small, landlocked former colony who almost never made the news (and therefore newscasters never had to bumble over the pronunciation if it’s capital, Ouagadougou), Burkina Faso might just emerge as the spark that ignites democracy and change in the region.

65 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Warren Webber
Warren Webber3 years ago

Live long and prosper

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Judith C.
Judith C3 years ago

Thanks for info.

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Georgina Elizab McAlliste
.3 years ago

All I can say is Good for them!I'd like that to happen in Italy too!!

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Jack Lad
Jack L3 years ago

Thanks

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Edo R.
Edo R3 years ago

Thanks

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Sherri Foster
Sherri Foster3 years ago

It seems as if the people of Burkina Faso have spoken and they have said enough is enough!! This type of civil change does not come easily.I wish them the strength and fortitude to overcome whatever challenges may be forthcoming.

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Anne K.
Anne K3 years ago

Thanks for sharing, Lizabeth.

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Vivianne Mosca-Clark

It is the time for all people of all countries stand up for the changes they need to live with justice and dignity. There are more of 'us' then there are of 'them'. We do not need guns to do this.
We have ...because of our huge numbers...to not buy or financially support any business that hurts and life force / land/ water/ air, for money.

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Fred L.
Fred L3 years ago

I really don't give a rat's ass what happens to humans, it's just too bad that wildlife and the natural world have to suffer for our idiocies.

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