We are delighted to launch the latest section of Insight on Conflict: Burkina Faso. Information on 12 local peacebuilding organisations working around the country is now available, provided by our new Local Correspondent, Boris Somé.
Burkina Faso has seen serious political upheaval this year, and this new section means we can respond to immediately events there, directly where it is happening. It has suffered from many violent changes in government over the years, and its people have suffered as a result.
However, as in other parts of West Africa, civil society has gone from strength to strength. As Boris discusses in his introduction to peacebuilding in Burkina, the country has a vibrant and active civil society, with many organisations doing superb work towards peaceful political transformation. Boris has published the book on peacebuilding in Burkina Faso, and we are delighted to add his knowledge and experience to our team.
As Boris notes in his article, it is not just people but organisations that must work together to put an end to the country’s history of coups and unrest. The current situation is a rare opportunity for meaningful change – taking advantage of it might mean securing the fair and just future often hoped for but never delivered in Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso gained its independence from France as Upper Volta in 1960. Dry, landlocked and with limited resources, the first twenty years of Upper Volta’s existence saw numerous changes in political power and coups d’état.
In 1983, Captain Thomas Sankara took power in one such coup, aided by his army colleague Blaise Campoaré. Sankara initiated a reform programme popular with Burkina Faso’s poor, but was killed in another coup in 1987, led by Campoaré – his former friend. Campoaré assumed power and presided over almost three decades of relative political stability.
However, his rule over one of the poorest countries in the world was not without several episodes of large-scale protest. These became increasingly violent after 2011. In early 2014, opposition mounted as Campoaré announced plans to change the constitution in order to allow him to stand for a fifth five-year term as president.
In October, popular protests turned into a mass uprising which led to Campoaré standing down and the military taking power, in a widely-criticised move. Former foreign minister Michel Kafando currently heads an interim administration, in charge of organising elections in 2015.