#AfricanLeaders: Niger
August 2, 2016
#GetToKnow: Ivory Coast
August 5, 2016

#GetToKnow: BurkinaFaso

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country of West Africa, bordered by Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo and Ghana. As with most of the region, Burkina Faso was colonized by France and its modern borders were created by the Franco-British Convention of 14 June 1898 when the country became part of the Upper Senegal and Niger. In March 1919, following the Volta-Bani War – the most important armed rebellion against colonial occupation – fearing another armed uprising, the French established the Upper Volta. After gaining the status of autonomous republic in 1958, the country finally became fully independent in 1960. In 1984 under the leadership of President Thomas Sankara, Upper Volta was renamed Burkina Faso, the « land of the honest people ».[1]

 Between 1966 and 1987, the country suffered deeply from several military coups. In 1983, with the help of Blaise Compaoré, Thomas Sankara took power and started to implement revolutionary programs. However the relationship between Compaoré and Sankara started to deteriorate over the years and their opposing views on the revolution ideal and the power given to the President soon became visible.[2] By 1987, Compaoré overthrew President Sankara shortly after he was killed and his body was never recovered. He undertook a major reform of Sankara’s policies, and in 1990, adopted a new Constitution. Compaoré was elected President in 1991 and re-elected again in 1998, in 2005 and in 2010. Due to the liberal transition he initiated, Compaoré created his new party the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) and started recruiting more liberal executives, including the banker Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.

In 2014, Compaoré attempted to change the Constitution in order to extend his mandate; the attempt was met with violent insurrection from the people of  Burkina Faso and considered « constitutional coup d’état » [3]. In opposition to Compaoré’s attempt to modify the Constitution, Roch Kaboré, Simon Compaoré and Salif Dialo left the CDP and created the People’s Movement for Progress (PMP) with 72 other former members of the CDP.[4] On October 30th, several iconic buildings are set on fire as thousands of protesters took to the streets.[5] The very next day, President Compaoré resigner and a transition government was established.In November 2015, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was elected president with 53% of the votes. These elections were considered the first truly democratic elections in the country since its 50 years of independence.

Despite having distanced himself from Compaoré and the CDP, Kaboré still raises suspicion among opposition parties, namely because the Constitutional Commission has yet to commence, despite government announcing in March 2016 the writing of a new constitution within 60 days. This represents a challenge for the new government and for Burkina Faso; due to the 2014 protests, the new constitution is the core preoccupation of the Burkinabés.[6] Fearing the presence of Kaboré’s supporters in the Commission would effect the outcome of the Constitution, the Union for Progress Reform (UPR) – the main opposition party – advocates for the adoption of a draft of the Constitution by consensus instead of majority vote.[7]

Burkina Faso is considered one of the least developed countries in the world. Its economy relies mostly on agriculture with 80% of the population employed in this sector.[8] In 2014 the political crisis, the decreasing price of the cotton and gold including the Ebola epidemic had a damaging impact on Burkina Faso’s economy.[9] Moreover, droughts continue to be recurring difficulty for the country’s development. The main challenges faced by Burkina Faso therefore remains domestic and regional stability from which development and poverty reduction deeply depend.

 Despite these issues, considerable improvements have occurred. There has been a decrease in infant and maternal mortality and the country is now rated 181 on the UNDP 2014 Human Development Index; two places up from the previous year.[10]


Independence Day 1960
President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré
Government Republic
Capital City Ouagadougou
GDP (2015) 11.099 billions [1]
Population (2015) 18 105 570 [1]
Religions Islam (60%) Christians (20%) [2]
Major Language French
Currency Franc CFA
Life expectancy 58,7 years [3]



Sources :  [1] Word Bank. 2016. Burkina Faso. http://data.worldbank.org/country/burkina-faso  [Accessed : 1 August 2016]

[2] Infoplease. 2016. Burkina Faso. Available at : http://www.infoplease.com/country/burkina-faso.html?pageno=3 [Accessed : 1 August 2016]

[3] BBC. 2016. Burkina Faso Profile. Available at : http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13072774 [Accessed : 1 August 2016]

 [1] BBC. 2016. Burkina Faso Profile. Available at : http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13072774 [Accessed : 1 August 2016]

Rupley, Lawrence; Bangali, Lamissa & Diamitani, Boureima (2013). Historical Dictionary of Burkina Faso. The Scarecrow Press

[2] Time Magazine. 26 October 1987. Burkina Faso Upright Down. A leader is deposed and killed. Vol. 130 Issue 17, p52. 1p. Relevant extract available at :  http://perspective.usherbrooke.ca/bilan/servlet/BMEve?codeEve=641 [Accessed : 1 August 2016]

Carayol, Rémi. December 2015. Récit – Burkina Faso : Thomas Sankara, 16 h 30, le 15 octobre 1987. Jeune Afrique. Available at : http://www.jeuneafrique.com/38064/politique/r-cit-burkina-faso-thomas-sankara-16-h-30-le-15-octobre-1987/ [Accessed : 1 August 2016]

[3]Le Monde. 2014. Les Burkinabés mobilisés contre un coup d’état constitutionnel. Available at :  http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2014/10/29/les-burkinabes-mobilises-contre-un-coup-d-etat-constitutionnel_4514059_3212.html [Accessed : 1 August 2016]

[4] Olivier, Mathieu. December 2015. Burkina : ce qu’il faut savoir sur Roch Marc Christian Kaboré. Jeune Afrique. Available at : http://www.jeuneafrique.com/282904/politique/burkina-quil-faut-savoir-roch-marc-christian-kabore/ [Accessed : 1 August 2016]

[5] The Guardian. October 2014. Burkina Faso’s revolution 2.0. Available at :  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/30/burkina-faso-protests-president-constitution-power [Accessed : 1 August 2016]

[6] http://www.jeuneafrique.com/mag/329119/politique/burkina-nouvelle-constitution-finir-loi-plus-fort/ [Accessed : 1 August 2016]

[7] Le Monde. July 2016. Au Burkina Faso, l’introuvable commission constitutionnelle. Available at : http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2016/07/08/au-burkina-faso-l-introuvable-commission-constitutionnelle_4966575_3212.html [Accessed : 1 August 2016]

[8] Word Bank. 2016. Burkina Faso. http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/burkinafaso/overview

[9] http://www.afdb.org/en/countries/west-africa/burkina-faso/burkina-faso-economic-outlook/

[10] n8