News / Africa

Protests Highlight Tense Political Season in Burkina Faso

People march during an opposition protest in Ouagadougou on July 28, 2013 against the creation of a Senate which they say will enable the President to extend his 26-year rule.
People march during an opposition protest in Ouagadougou on July 28, 2013 against the creation of a Senate which they say will enable the President to extend his 26-year rule.
The West African nation of Burkina Faso has seen a resumption of large-scale protests this month over high living costs and the controversial creation of a new Senate. Analysts say the protests point to a tense political environment in the run-up to elections in 2015, regardless of who is on the ballot. 

Thousands of opposition supporters gathered this past weekend for a march and rally in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, to protest the selection of senators.

The new Senate, approved by lawmakers in May, has been derided by the opposition as a tool for President Blaise Compaore to extend his hold on power.

Compaore has been president for 26 years, but a rule on term limits would prohibit him from running again in 2015. By creating a Senate staffed mostly by his supporters, President Compaore could engineer a revision of the constitution without going through the process of a popular referendum.

Opposition lawmaker Saran Sereme said such a move would violate the wishes of voters.

She said, “Today the strong mobilization of demonstrators sends a clear message. We want a peaceful Burkina Faso, but we also want a country where the people are listened to.” She says “When the people are not listened to, then you have a problem.”

Uncertainties

Compaore has not stated clearly whether he will try to stay on as president or step down.  In a report released last week, the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank warned that either way, the nation of 16 million is entering an uncertain and possibly perilous period.

Rinaldo Depagne, senior West Africa analyst for ICG, said the opposition appeared to have united around its rejection of any plans to alter Article 37 of the Constitution, which limits presidents to two terms of five years.

“The opposition used to be very divided. But now with this anti-Senate and this anti-Article 37 thing, they’ve found the kind of glue to stick together,” he said.

But he also said President Compaore retained strong support, and that even if he decided not to run in the 2015 elections, his political party would remain a formidable political force.

“The question is, will this opposition accept the vote even if they lose? Because there is no guarantee that the opposition will win an election against somebody other than Compaore. Compaore’s party is still strong. They still have resources, human resources, financial resources,” he said.

Regional consequences

A period of instability in Burkina Faso could prove disastrous for other countries in the region, especially neighboring Ivory Coast, which is due to have elections around the same time.  Ivory Coast already has a substantial Burkinabe population, and their presence is resented by a large section of Ivorians.  If more Burkinabe immigrants tried to enter the country, it could prove politically toxic, Depagne said.

The ICG says Compaore’s regional mediation skills have also proved valuable in recent years. Just last month, he was influential in orchestrating a deal that allowed for elections to be held in northern Mali.  Depagne said it would be unfortunate for the region to lose the diplomatic apparatus President Compaore has built up over the years, though that does not mean he needs to stay in office.

Compaore’s government has not responded in depth to the recent protests. After a rally against high living costs two weeks ago, Prime Minister Luc Adolphe Tiao vowed to hold talks with trade unions, though no action has been taken up to now.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs