Briefly summarized: Burkina Faso

Sabina Unni, Assistant Opinions Editor

The longest serving United States President was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who served for twelve years.  In Burkina Faso, the now ex-president, Blaise Compaoré, has served for 27 years.  As if 27 years does not seem like enough, Burkina Faso recently tried to pass a constitutional amendment to allow him to run in a fifth presidential election.  Rumors began in July of 2013, when Compaoré’s oppositional party, the People’s Movement for Socialism, spread information that he would attempt to prolong his term.  On Oct. 30, the National Assembly, a legislative body, met to debate the introduction of a new constitutional amendment, which the ruling party, the Congress for Democracy and Progress, would have supported.

The meeting sparked mass chaos throughout the nation that included looting, arson, and street protests.  The National Assembly building and parliamentary building as well as other government buildings were burned by protesters during the upheaval.  The protests were not exclusive to the average citizen; high-ranking government officials, including Defense Minister Kouamé Lougué, participated in uprisings.  Following the burning of the Congress for Democracy and Progress headquarters, Compaoré dissolved the government, declared Burkina Faso to be in a state of emergency, and fled to the Ivory Coast. General Honoré Nabéré Traoré stated that the country would enstate a transitional government for the next twelve months, and finally, after much anguish, Compaoré officially resigned. Colonel Isaac Zida, controller of a large branch of the military, appointed himself as Head of State for the transitionary period, despite General Honoré Nabéré Traoré’s previous claims of leading the transitional government.

“This is not a coup d’etat but a popular uprising,” said Zida.  “I salute the memory of the martyrs of this uprising and bow to the sacrifices made by our people.’’

But why is this event important?  Burkina Faso is a country that exists in the Sahel region of Africa, a region of social and economic turmoil.  Throughout Burkina Faso, there is food insecurity, droughts, a lack of fundamental rights for women, extreme terrorist groups, and now, there is massive political instability.

As said by the International Food Policy Research Institute, “Food insecurity, or poverty-related hunger, follows from armed violence that disrupts markets and livelihoods and leaves household armed violence that leaves households without sufficient resources to access food.”

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a terrorist group that plagues the region, and the Tuareg Rebellion, a region-wide series of conflicts which has stirred underlying tensions, also contributed to the lack of proper resources, as each group  seizes supplies donated by organizations and governments. Furthermore, food instability has been brought about by the lack of education and non-arable farmland.

In summation, this is a region that is already full of problems, and these problems will be further exacerbated due to political instability.