Burkina Faso : Popular uprising reshaped political landscape


Early November, the opposition managed to end the 27-year rule of President Compaore after four days of protests. Demonstrations were spurred by Compoare’s plan to introduce a constitutional amendment that would allow him to run for another Presidential term. Before demonstrators could celebrate their victory, a power struggle among army officials broke out and lieutenant-colonel Zida eventually seized power.

Thousands took to the streets again as people refused to be robbed from their revolution by a military coup. Simultaneously, international governments, the African Union, ECOWAS and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (CFA-franc zone) were lobbying army officials to hand back power to democratic rule and organise elections.

The military eventually did so on 17 November due to diplomatic pressure, looming economic and financial sanctions and the threat of donor suspension. Former foreign minister Kafando was appointed interim President of a transition government set to lead the country to elections in late 2015.

The transition government holds members of the army, opposition parties, religious leaders and civil society groups, while lieutenant-colonel Zida was appointed Prime Minister. Consequently, the army will retain its say in every day politics at least for another year, which could potentially still spur riots.

Impact on country risk

Investors were somewhat reassured – particularly in the mining sector that makes up for 20% of GDP – as political instability did not drag on for too long. Burkina Faso is an important base for American and French forces in the fight against Islamist extremism in nearby countries like Mali, Nigeria and Niger.

Still, it is one of Africa’s poorest countries and ranks 181st out of 187 nations on the United Nations Human Development Index. Until today Credendo Group was not incited to downgrade Burkina Faso’s risk classifications as the increased likelihood for civil uprising was already incorporated in the risk appreciation.

Moreover, thanks to the relatively swift introduction of an interim government, fear for widespread violence and paralysing sanctions appeased rather quickly. Nevertheless, several African leaders have to pay attention to the events in Burkina Faso as the removal of Presidential term limits is a hot issue in a number of other countries.

The presidents of Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin, Congo Republic, Togo and Djibouti are all set to change the constitution to stay in power, raising theories about a possible ‘black spring’.

Credendo Group , Louise Van Cauwenbergh

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