Attacks on the Burkina Faso army headquarters and the French Embassy on 2 March 2018 were better organised, involved heavier weapons and were more sustained than anything seen so far in Burkina Faso. In this Q&A, our West Africa Project Director Rinaldo Depagne says the jihadist assault further exposes worrying weakness in the Burkinabé security forces.
Persistent militant attacks in north and east, mainly against security forces, continued to provoke popular frustration and spur regional cooperation. In north, suspected Islamist militants attacked gendarmerie post in Lanfiera, Sourou province night of 1-2 Oct, injuring three gendarmes. Unidentified gunmen 3 Oct attacked security post at Inata gold mine, Soum province, killing one gendarme; in response French Operation Barkhane night of 3-4 Oct launched its first airstrike in Burkina Faso, reportedly killing seven assailants. Homemade mine 5 Oct killed six gendarmes on Sollé-Titao axis, Louroum province. Unidentified assailants 18 Oct attacked gendarmerie in Djibo, Soum province, injuring several members of security forces. In east, military vehicle 4 Oct detonated mine near Gayeri, Komondjari province, six soldiers killed. Military vehicle 6 Oct triggered mine near Kabonga, Kompienga province, one soldier killed. Barkhane same day launched airstrikes in support of Burkinabe military in Pama region. Defence, security and foreign affairs ministers of Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin and Togo met in capital Ouagadougou 16 Oct to work out common strategy to counter rising insecurity in eastern Burkina. Fifteen civil society organisations organised rally 31 Oct to protest rising insecurity and mark fourth anniversary of 2014 popular uprising. Paris Court of appeals 10 Oct postponed to 5 Dec legal deliberations required to process request to extradite François Compaoré, brother of deposed President Blaise Compaoré, prosecuted for alleged involvement in assassination of journalist Norbert Zongo and three others in 1998.
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.
Crisis Group's West Africa Analyst Cynthia Ohayon explains the challenges of the upcoming elections in Burkina Faso and measures how to mitigate the country's tensions after the failed coup in September 2015.