Burkina Faso is suffering mounting insurgent attacks and social unrest. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2019 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to support the return of some Burkinabé troops from Mali and to fund social programs that could ease discontent.
Attacks against civilians and security forces – most attributed to jihadists – intensified in Centre-North region and continued in Sahel and North regions. In Centre-North region, jihadist Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) allegedly staged more than ten attacks against civilians in several villages in Bam province in late Sept-early Oct, killing about twenty; notably, unidentified gunmen 1 Oct attacked Kargo village, Zimtanga commune, killing at least six. Unidentified gunmen 12 Oct killed two civilians in Zandraogo, Sanmatenga province; 22 Oct ambushed two military patrols in Barsalogho, Sanmatenga province, killing six soldiers; 20 Oct attacked Zoura, Bam province, reportedly killing eight. Residents of Bam province 5 Oct attempted to form coalition of self-defence groups. In Sahel region, jihadists continued to target strategic transport routes and infrastructure in alleged attempt to limit traffic in and out. In Soum province, military patrol 3 Oct detonated explosive on Djibo-Bourzanga axis, one soldier killed; suspected JNIM militants 4 Oct shot dead at least twenty artisanal gold miners in Dolmane near Madoudji village; suspected jihadists 28 Oct killed sixteen civilians in Pobé-Mengao. Security forces reportedly killed 39 assailants who ambushed gendarmerie patrol 7 Oct in Gorgadji area, Seno province. Suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 11 Oct attacked mosque in Salmossi, Oudalan province, killing sixteen. Police of Markoye commune 17 Oct said they were relocating to provincial capital Gorom-Gorom due to insecurity. In North region, suspected jihadist militants 19 Oct attacked military outposts in Bahn, Loroum province and Yensé, Yatenga province, killing five soldiers; explosive device 23 Oct killed two soldiers in Banh. In Loroum province, unidentified gunmen 12 Oct killed four civilians in Samboulga; 7 Oct killed eight in Bouna. Authorities heightened security measures in all three regions mid-Oct: governors introduced 45-day nightly curfew in all four of Sahel region’s provinces and North region’s Loroum province, all under state of emergency. In East region, suspected jihadists 11 Oct attacked police station in Yamba, Gourma province and 17 Oct attacked police in Nadiagou, Kompienga province.
Créée en février 2017, la Force conjointe du G5 Sahel est une force de nouvelle génération dans un espace sahélien où se bousculent des initiatives militaires et diplomatiques parfois concurrentes. Il ne suffira pas de fournir des armes et de l’argent pour résoudre les crises sahéliennes. Pour atteindre ses objectifs, la force doit gagner la confiance des populations et des puissances régionales et obtenir leur soutien.
Jihadist violence in the West African Sahel has now spread to the north of Burkina Faso. The response of Ouagadougou and its partners must go beyond the obvious religious and security dimensions of the crisis, and any solution must take into account deep-rooted social and local factors.
In a troubled region, Burkina Faso is a rare example of religious diversity and tolerance. But a perceived discrepancy between a significant number of Muslims and their low level of public representation has created tensions. To safeguard Burkina’s model of peaceful coexistence, the government must address this sensitive issue through careful reforms, particularly in the education system.
Burkina Faso’s democratically elected new government faces great challenges to deliver on justice, socio-economic needs and regional security. To succeed, authorities must resist the temptation to establish a new one-party hegemony. Instead, they should engage in social dialogue and political reconciliation, military reform, and friendly relations with neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire.
Burkina Faso’s faltering transition faces elections in less than four months amid political tensions and social agitation. A controversial electoral code could inject the poison of exclusion into a country that is attached to multiparty politics. It is time for political and civil society actors to begin a formal dialogue to reduce the risks.
Three months after Blaise Compaoré’s departure, Burkina Faso’s transition is moving forward in an uncertain context. The provisional government, with the help of its international partners, should initiate urgent reforms and ensure the October 2015 elections allow for peaceful, democratic change.
In Burkina Faso, the intelligence system did not rest on an institution but on the shoulders of one man, General Gilbert Diendere. We know that some of the 566 soldiers have joined jihadist groups.
There is a strong sense [in Burkina Faso] that the state has never really done much for the north. [...] Strengthening its military presence isn’t enough – they need to establish trust.
The new rulers [in Burkina Faso] want to use justice when it serves them but they don't want to sink their own ship.
Justice is important for the Burkinabe, and the lack of justice and impunity is one of the reasons people rose against [Burkina Faso's President] Compaore.
With jihadists and armed groups exploiting political and security vacuums across the Sahel, Mali and neighbouring states will continue to face insecurity. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2017 annual early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to rethink international development strategies and to support local government initiatives that combat radicalisation.