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

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora