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.
Suspected jihadist militants continued attacks against security forces and civilians in north and east amid reports of killings of civilians by security forces, and insecurity persisted in west. In Sahel region in north, suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 4 Dec attacked gendarmerie checkpoint on Dori-Seytanga axis, three gendarmes wounded; suspected members of jihadist group Ansarul Islam 10 Dec destroyed school in Firguindi in intimidation campaign against educational facilities. Mostly Fulani local NGO Kisal late Nov reported security forces were suspected of committing serious abuses against civilians in Sahel region, including killing 38 civilians in three villages in Boulgou province mid Nov and allegedly killing seven civilians in Niafo village, Soum province 22 Nov. In Boucle du Mouhoun region in north west, suspected members of jihadist group Macina Liberation Front, member of coalition Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM), killed two policemen near Goïalé 6 Dec and allegedly abducted two councilmen in Kwaremenguel and Gani 3 Dec. Also in Boucle du Mouhoun region, JNIM 27 Dec claimed responsibility for 25 Dec attack near Toeni that killed ten gendarmes. In North region, suspected Ansarul Islam militants 3 Dec abducted councilman in Banh. In East region, suspected ISGS militants 14 Dec attacked police station in Nadiagou and 15 Dec killed municipal councillor in Pepembougou. Govt 31 Dec imposed state of emergency in violence-affected provinces in seven regions: Hauts-Bassins, Boucle du Mouhoun, Cascades, North, Sahel, East and Centre-East. In south west, unidentified assailants 7 Dec attacked credit union in Péni, Hauts-Bassins region, four civilians wounded; 11 Dec attacked police station in Bouroum-Bouroum, South West region, no casualties reported. President Kaboré 17-18 Dec met French President Macron in Paris; Macron agreed to new military framework for security cooperation, reportedly saying he was ready to send more trainers, military advisers and equipment.
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.