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Burkina Faso

CrisisWatch Burkina Faso

Unchanged Situation

Deadly jihadist attacks and counter-insurgency operations continued in north; military junta announced local-level talks with jihadist groups and requested more time from West Africa regional bloc to finalise transition timetable. Jihadist violence increased in Centre-North region from late March. Presumed al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants overnight 31 March-1 April killed 20 civilians in Namentenga province and 8 April attacked military detachment, killing 12 soldiers and four volunteers fighting alongside security forces in Sanmatenga province. Residents of Bourzanga town (Bam province, also Centre-North), where jihadists established presence in March, early April said town running out of supplies. In Sahel region (north), military in cooperation with Nigerien forces 2-25 April conducted airstrikes and ground offensives against both JNIM and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, claimed about 100 combatants killed and 40 detained; local sources said most killed were civilians, which defence ministry 24 April denied. Coordinated jihadist attacks on two military detachments 24 April killed nine soldiers and six civilians in Pobé-Mengao department (Soum province, also Sahel). Suspected jihadists 26 April reportedly opened fire on civilians near Markoye town (Oudalan province, Sahel), killing 13. Amid mounting public pressure to address insecurity, President Lt Col Damiba 1 April announced dialogue with jihadists, with aim of “integrating Burkinabe youth from these groups back into society”; Council of Ministers 13 April created commission coordinating local dialogue committees. Interim govt 15 April announced recruitment, training and deployment of 3,000 additional soldiers by May. Deposed President Kaboré released from house arrest 6 April. Military junta 22 April requested more time to finalise “acceptable transition timetable” ahead of West African regional body ECOWAS 25 April deadline; ECOWAS 27 April announced it would send mission to country to determine next steps. Ouagadougou military court 6 April sentenced former President Compaoré to life imprisonment for 1987 murder of then-President Sankara. Sankara’s relatives and several civil society groups immediately welcomed trial’s outcome, with Thomas Sankara Memorial Committee hailing it as “great victory”; former National Reconciliation Minister Zephirin Diabré 10 April however said Compaoré’s conviction could be obstacle to future national reconciliation.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

26 Jan 2022
Considering Ecowas’ recent failures to deter coups, what happened in Mali and Burkina Faso may inspire other officers in the region. Bloomberg

Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim

Consulting Analyst, Sahel
1 Apr 2021
Putting a bounty on militant leaders’ heads, these types of policy moves, make negotiations and outreach [in Burkina Faso] quite a bit harder. Foreign Policy

Hannah Armstrong

Former Senior Consulting Analyst, Sahel
8 Jan 2020
Burkina is a gateway to coastal West Africa and there is a real concern that jihadist groups may see it as a launching pad to gain other footholds in the coastal region. Financial Times

Comfort Ero

President & CEO
6 Mar 2018
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. AFP

Rinaldo Depagne

Deputy Program Director, Africa & Project Director, West Africa
20 Jun 2017
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. Bloomberg

Cynthia Ohayon

Former Analyst, West Africa
3 May 2017
The new rulers [in Burkina Faso] want to use justice when it serves them but they don't want to sink their own ship. Reuters

Cynthia Ohayon

Former Analyst, West Africa

Latest Updates

Q&A / Africa

Burkina Faso et Niger : des élections à l’épreuve des insurrections ?

Le Burkina Faso et le Niger se dirigent tous deux vers des élections générales. Rinaldo Depagne et Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim décryptent leurs enjeux et insistent sur la nécessité pour leurs vainqueurs de se pencher sur l’insécurité croissante dans les régions rurales, provoquée en grande partie par la présence de groupes jihadistes.

Report / Africa

Burkina Faso : sortir de la spirale des violences

La prolifération des groupes armés et l'implantation rapide des jihadistes a conduit, en 2019, à une intensification de la violence au Burkina Faso. Le gouvernement devrait adopter une approche intégrée de la sécurité et mettre fin aux crises du monde rural en résolvant notamment la question foncière.

Also available in English
Commentary / Africa

Burkina Faso: Safeguarding Elections amid Crisis

As Burkina Faso’s rural conflict rages, the country is also beset by urban unrest. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2020 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to lend support to election preparations and encourage the government to devote energy to the crisis in the countryside.

Briefing / Africa

L’Afrique de l’Ouest face au risque de contagion jihadiste

Face à la percée jihadiste au Burkina Faso, porte ouverte sur les pays du Golfe de Guinée, ceux-ci craignent des attaques sur leurs territoires. Les Etats de la région devraient améliorer le partage du renseignement, renforcer les contrôles aux frontières et renouer un lien de confiance avec la population.

Also available in English
Report / Africa

Reprendre en main la ruée vers l’or au Sahel central

Au Mali, au Burkina Faso et au Niger, le boom aurifère représente une nouvelle source de financement, voire un terrain de recrutement pour divers groupes armés, y compris jihadistes. Les Etats sahéliens devraient rétablir leur présence aux abords des mines d’or et mieux formaliser l’exploitation aurifère artisanale.

Also available in English