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.
Jihadist attacks, intercommunal violence and banditry continued especially in north and east, as growing number of attacks against Christians raised fears they would stir inter-religious tensions. Unidentified gunmen 12 May attacked church in Dablo in Centre-North region, killing six including priest; suspected jihadists 13 May attacked Catholic Christians in procession between villages of Singa and Kayon in Centre-North region, killing four civilians; 26 May attacked church in Toulfé in North region, four killed. Unidentified assailants 13 May abducted and killed imam and his son in Seno, Sahel region in north. Army vehicle ambushed 23 May near Wamou forest in east, one forest warden killed. Health worker abducted 6 May in Nafo in Centre-East, released next day. French military carried out operation in north with support of Burkinabè and Beninese forces 10 May freeing four abductees, including two French tourists kidnapped in northern Benin 1 May, reportedly by Islamist group Ansarul Islam; two French soldiers killed during operation. President Kaboré early May replaced governors of East, North, Centre-North, Sahel and Centre-South regions. Army 11 May launched Operation Ndoufou to counter spread of militant groups in Sahel, Centre-North and North regions. Former general and PM under Michel Kafando’s transitional govt Yacouba Isaac Zida early May said he would come back from exile and run for office in 2020 presidential elections.
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.