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.
Deadly incidents continued almost daily in several areas, especially in north and east, attributed to jihadist activity, banditry or intercommunal violence, and President Kaboré began talks with opposition ahead of 2020 elections. Notably in Sahel region in north, killing of ethnic Fulse religious leader in Arbinda 31 March by suspected ethnic Fulani jihadist militants triggered intercommunal violence that according to govt left over 60 dead. Also in north, suspected jihadist attack on Djika village 19 April left at least seven people dead; suspected jihadists shot dead four people in Liki 23 April; suspected jihadists attacked church in Silgadji 28 April killing priest and five worshippers; some twenty unidentified gunmen attacked town hall and burned police station in Gorgadji 29 April. In east, suspected jihadists attacked school in Maytagou 26 April killing six. Burkina Faso and Mali 11 April said joint operation Kapidgou in border area killed 24 militants. Kaboré initiated political dialogue to prepare for 2020 general elections and facilitate constitutional referendum; Kaboré 4 April met Zéphirin Diabré, head of opposition party Union for Progress and Change (UPC). Kaboré 12 April met Ivorian Minister of Defence Hamed Bakayoko to discuss security issues in sub-region. As part of Accra Initiative aimed at fostering regional cooperation against common security threats, Burkina Faso took part in meeting in Togolese capital Lomé 18 April to plan deployment of joint forces along Burkina Faso’s borders; representatives from Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Togo also attended. Trial of those responsible for Sept 2015 failed coup attempt opened 9 April, next session postponed to 30 April.
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.