Tag Archives: Blaise Compaore

Burkina Faso President Resigns After Three Days of Protests

Posted on in Burkina Faso title_rule

After three days of protests, on Friday, Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore formally announced his resignation, with the country’s armed forces chief General Honore Traore announcing that he has taken charge of the West African country.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Mr Compaore disclosed that the presidency was now vacant, and urged that the country hold elections within 90 days. Military chief General Honore Traore has since indicated that he has taken over as head of state. The announcement by Mr Compaore came less than twenty-four hours after the dissolution of parliament and the declaration of a state of emergency.

Following days of protests in Ouagadougou, which turned violent on Thursday as protesters stormed Parliament, setting fire to it and several official and unofficial buildings, the country’s army General announced early Thursday evening the creation of a transitional government after declaring the dissolution of parliament and imposing a night curfew. Mr Compaore announced late Thursday that he had agreed to not seek another term, but that he would remain in power until a transitional government had completed its work in 2015. The opposition however continued its demands that he resign, with its leader, Zephirin Diabre, calling on protesters to occupy public spaces in order to force the president to resign. On Friday, protesters occupied Ouagadougou’s Place de la Nation as well as the main army headquarters. Although in the early hours of Friday, Mr Compaore had restated his position that he would not resign, by the afternoon it was clear that the president no longer had a choice.

Mr Compaore’s statement, which was read on local television, disclosed, “in order to preserve the democratic gains, as well as social peace. I declare a power vacuum to allow the establishment of a transition leading to free and fair elections within a maximum of 90 days. “ Lieutenant-Colonel Issaac Zida also made the announcement to protesters at the Place de la Nation, which was greeted with cheers from the crowds.

While the current whereabouts of the president remain unclear, diplomatic sources have reported that a heavily armed convoy, believed to be carrying Burkina Faso’s now–former president Blaise Compaore was seen travelling towards the southern town of Po, near the border with Ghana.

Although MS Risk expects that order will be restored across the country quickly, all travellers currently in Burkina Faso should be aware of the following:

  • Curfew’s may be imposed over the following days as order is restored. If this is the case, MS Risk advises all travellers to adhere to the curfew hours.
  • There is a likelihood of increased military and police presence across the country, especially in the capital city. Security forces will likely be deployed to all government buildings, with an increased military presence at the army’s headquarters.
  • Demonstrations celebrating the president’s resignation may occur over the coming days, particularly in Ouagadougou. MS Risk advises all travellers to avoid large gatherings and demonstrations as they may turn violent with minimal notice.
  • The government may impose restrictions on travel over the coming days, and may set up roadblocks across the country. You should be aware that illegal roadblocks may also be set up.
  • With Ouagadougou airport closed on Thursday 30 October, continued limited air carrier services are likely continue over the weekend as airlines monitor the situation. Services will likely be up and running on 3 November.
  • There is a potential for reduced availability in stores and petrol stations while any supply chain interruptions are sorted.

For up to date information on the current situation in Burkina Faso, follow us on @MSRisk_Security or visit our website: www.msrisk.com

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Demonstrators Storm Parliament in Burkina Faso

Posted on in Burkina Faso title_rule

30 October– Thousands of protesters have stormed Burkina Faso’s parliament and set the building on fire in Ouagadougou, forcing police to withdraw ahead of a vote on a motion to allow the president to stand for re-election. The military has fired live bullets in an attempt to disperse the protesters. The crowd reportedly then headed towards the Prime Minister’s office. One witness has reported that a government helicopter flew overhead, shooting tear gas canisters at protesters.

Earlier, violent clashes broke out in Ouagadougou during a second day of protests denouncing President Blaise Compaore’s plan to seek re-election for another five-year term. Students and members of the largest labour coalition marched in the Burkina Faso capital, some wielding iron bars and stones. Security forces clashed with stone-throwing demonstrators for hours, using tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to disperse the crowds, and dismantling makeshift traffic barricades outside the National Assembly and Place de la Nation. Opposition leaders have said that nearly a million people have taken to the streets to prevent the change to the constitutional article.

President Compaore, who has been in power for 27 years, seeks to amend Article 37 of Burkina Faso’s constitution, which sets term limits on presidential powers. In 1987, Compaore seized power following a coup in which Thomas Sankara, was ousted and assassinated. Compaore has been re-elected president four times since 1991, twice to seven year terms, and twice to five year terms. In 2005, constitutional limits were introduced; Compaore nearing the end of his second five-year term. His proposal to amend Article 37 would allow him to run for a fifth term in the 2015 elections. Opposition leaders call the move a constitutional coup, fearing the new rules would enable Compaore to seek re-election three more times, allowing up to 15 more years in power.

The country’s parliament will vote today on whether to hold a referendum allowing the change. If the amendment passes by at least 75 percent of the parliamentarians, Compaore will be allowed to run in the 2015 elections. If support falls short of 75 percent, the bill will be put to a public referendum. Over the weekend, the nation’s third largest party in parliament said it would back the amendment, setting the Compaore on course to pass the amendment without resorting to a referendum.

The nation’s largest opposition group asked the police to allow the public inside the National Assembly to watch the vote, and has called for a blockade of parliament as the legislature examines the proposed amendment. The government has urged protesters to show restraint following heavy clashes on Wednesday.

The U.S. and United Nations have both called for restraint by the government and protesters. The European Union said the planned constitutional change should be scrapped, warning that it could “jeopardise… stability, equitable development and democratic progress”.

Sixty percent of Burkina’s population is under 25, and have spent their entire lives under the leadership of Compaore. Frustration has erupted into outcry as the country has stagnated under his rule, ranking 183rd out of 186 countries on the UN human development index.

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Peace Accord Reached Between Malian Government and Tuareg Rebels

Posted on in Africa, Mali title_rule

Mali’s government has signed a peace deal with Tuareg rebels which will effectively help pave the way for elections which are due to take place at the end of next month.  Officials in Mali have indicated that the newly signed accord calls for an immediate ceasefire and for government troops to return to the rebel-held northern town of Kidal.  In turn, the Tuareg rebels will be restricted to set areas while long-term peace talks will begin after the elections are held.  The Malian army had previously threatened to seize the city if no agreement had been reached however Mali’s security forces will now return to Kidal, which has become a de facto Tuareg state, before the 28 July presidential elections.  According to the agreement, the deployment will begin with a unit of gendarmes and police, followed by a progressive deployment of Mali’s army, which will be in close collaboration with African and United nations forces.

Tuareg rebels had captured the northern capital city of Kidal after a French-led offensive forced al-Qaeda-linked militant Islamists out of the town back in January of this year.  The traditionally nomadic Tuaregs, who consider northern Mali their hereditary homeland, have been seeking to gain autonomy ever since Mali gained its independence from France in 1960, citing that they have been marginalized by the central government in Bamako, Mali’s capital city.  Since the 1960’s, Tuareg rebels have picked up arms against the state a number of times.  The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), which was founded in late 2011, is the most recent movement which has claimed greater autonomy for Mali’s Tuaregs.  The MNLA, which signed the accord, had initially formed an alliance with al-Qaeda-linked militants who seized the north in the spring of 2012.  However the alliance quickly disintegrated and the Islamist militants swiftly seized control of the MNLA’s strongholds.

As the Malian military began to advance on Kidal last month, many feared that clashes would occur between the MNLA and the army.  Consequently, hastily-convened talks were organized in Ouagadougou and were aimed at avoiding a direct confrontation.  The accord between the Interim Malian government and the MNLA was reached after nearly two weeks of talks that were brokered by Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore.  The talks were held in the capital city of Burkina Faso, which is the regional mediator for the conflict and which has become a de facto home-away-from-home for rebels in conflict with Mali’s government.  The accord was signed in front of reporters by two Tuareg representatives and Territorial Administration Minister Moussa Sinko Coulibaly.

In response to the peace deal, Malian government representative Tiebile Drame has indicated that the two sides had overcome their greatest differences, stating that “I think we can say that the biggest task is finished.  We have agreed on the essentials…there is an international consensus as well as a Malian consensus on the fundamental questions, which include the integrity of our territory, national unity, and the secular republican nature of our state.”  MNLA spokesman Moussa Ag Attaher confirmed that a deal had been reached, stating that “the MNLA and the High Council for the Azawad (the rebel name for northern Mali) have given everything for peace and so we accept this accord.”  There has also been a positive international response since the deal was brokered on Tuesday.    Leaders at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland have welcomed the news of the accord while United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the signing of the agreement stating that it “…provides for an immediate ceasefire, paves the way for the holding of presidential elections nationwide and commits the parties to discussing sustainable peace in Mali through an inclusive dialogue that will take place after the election.”  France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stated that “this agreement represents a major breakthrough in exiting the crisis in Mali.”

While officials from the United Nations, France and the European Union have all praised the accord, with the EU describing the agreement as a “historic” moment, it must be noted that this is not an overall peace deal which concludes the rebellion that began a year-and-a-half ago.  Instead, this is an agreement which is meant to allow a presidential election to go ahead nationwide at the end of July, including in Kidal.  However the peace accord does state that a eight-member commission, with equal representation for Tuareg groups and Malian security forces, will be set up.  The commission will be composed of four members of each rebel group, along with members of the Malian security forces, as well as six members from the international actors who have been engaged in resolving the conflict in Mali.  This will include officials from France, the African Union and the United Nations.  According to the agreement, the commission will be tasked with determining how the rebels will be disarmed, how they will be transferred to site where they can be garrisoned and the steps that will be taken in order to allow Mali’s military to return to the occupied area.  The body will have ten days to complete this task.

The MNLA’s agreement to allow Malian forces to move into Kidal signifies an immense step towards a possible reunification of the country, which will inevitably further draw out the Islamist militants who continue to pose a threat throughout the entire country.  In turn, the Tuareg occupation of Kidal was a major obstacle to holding the presidential elections, which are seen as crucial to Mali’s recovery from the conflict which began fifteen months ago.  Although during the worst of the fighting this year, the MNLA sided with France, the group has been reluctant to allow government troops to enter Kidal for the vote.  The MNLA had previously warned that the Malian army was not allowed to enter Kidal, citing that the army was discriminating against the Tuareg rebels.  However both the Tuareg rebels and the army in Mali have been accused of committing abuses against civilians because of their ethnic origins.  With the agreement now in place, Mali’s army will now be able to enter Kidal as the country prepares for elections which are set to take place in about five weeks.  However the country’s progress and reunification will also be dependent on the long-term peace discussions which will occur after the elections are held.

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