News

    Crises Converge on Burkina Faso

    Nick Loomis

    So far, more than 20,000 refugees have fled Mali into Burkina Faso, and some observers say Mali's crisis is further destabilizing its neighbor. With considerable political, social and economic problems of its own, the added stress on Burkina Faso could disturb an uneasy peace in the country.

    Burkina Faso's border with Mali stretches from the Tuareg rebel-controlled deserts of the north to the populated south, now governed by a military junta that seized power in late March.  

    According to the Red Cross, most Malian refugees find themselves in northern Burkina Faso after fleeing the well-armed and advancing Tuareg rebels. But government spokesman Alain Traoré says Burkina Faso is experiencing fallout all along the border with its northwestern neighbor.

    Traoré says that when the conflict zone that was in the north moved toward the capital for other reasons, the impact is the same and they are very worried.

    The influx of refugees will likely place further strains on one of the world's poorest economies, but the political situation in Burkina Faso is just as tenuous and could worsen as a result of regional instability.

    President Blaise Compaoré, who himself came to power by way of a coup in 1987, is the latest African head of state looking to prolong his tenure in the face of term limits. Like many of his regional counterparts, he is responding with constitutional reforms that will allow him, in his case, to run for a fifth term in 2015.

    Edouard Ouédraogo is president of the Burkina Faso chapter of the Research Group on the Democratic, Economic and Social Development of Africa. Ouédraogo says that the laws of the land are often put aside, which, he says, is unfortunate but seems to have become the sport of most countries.

    He adds that this fragility is because these countries are only apprentices of democracy and they don't always have the political personnel they need to mend things.

    Ouédraogo hopes that the president will not seek re-election in 2015, and he is not alone.  Last year, discontent over perceived corruption and the rising cost of living erupted in general protests against the government and a military mutiny.

    Much of the military has since been appeased with increased allowances, but Aminata Ramdé has not seen any changes in the capital of Ouagadougou. Ramdé says that, simply, life is very expensive. She says that her family tries to make ends meet, but they just don't.

    Prices of staple goods have continued to rise since the food security crisis of 2008 - a reflection and a cause of the growing food crisis in West Africa's Sahel region. The United Nations estimates that in Burkina Faso, some three million people, or 17 percent of the population, are at risk of malnutrition.  

    Although Burkina Faso imports most of its food, James Francis, an analyst with the Eurasia Group, says that the government can control prices to some extent and failure to do so could re-ignite tensions.

    "There will certainly be protests in urban centers," he said. "However, I don't see food prices, at least in the short or medium term, really causing any sort of political unrest in the country."

    But with the added stresses of Malian refugees, the cost of living could become difficult to contain. Francis said that in 2015, the government will have to answer to the electorate and an international community that is increasingly intolerant of leaders overstaying their welcome.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora