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.
Jihadist militants ramped up attacks in north and east mainly against security forces, as protests and strikes continued. In East region, suspected members of jihadist group Ansarul Islam 2 Nov attacked gendarmerie in Soudougui, Koulpélogo province; security forces 12 Nov reportedly repelled attack by unidentified gunmen against gendarmerie in Partiaga, Tapoa province. Roadside bomb and gun attack against police convoy near town of Boungou in east 30 Nov killed five including four police officers. In Centre North region, suspected Ansarul Islam 8 Nov attacked gendarmerie in Namsiguia, Bam province, wounding gendarme. In Centre West region, unidentified gunmen 8 Nov attacked gendarmerie in Silly, Sissilli province, wounding police commissioner. In Sahel region in north, unidentified gunmen 21 Nov attacked police station in Tongomayel, Soum province, wounding police officer. More schools shut down across country as jihadist militants continued intimidation. Suspected members of jihadist group Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS) 5 Nov forcibly closed school in Kletafades, Sahel region in north. Schools in Gayeri, East region were shut down 12 Nov after teachers received death threats from suspected Ansarul Islam militants. Unidentified assailants same day reportedly whipped teachers in Toulfé, North region; other teachers in area closed schools in fear of attack. Residents in Fada-Ngourma, East region 1 Nov protested against terrorism and violence. Prison security guards on strike to demand better working conditions same day raided residence of Justice Minister René Bagoro in capital Ouagadougou. Employees at court in Fada-Ngourma 5 Nov closed court due to insecurity, with court security guards on strike since 25 Oct. Several thousand people 29 Nov demonstrated in capital Ouagadougou as part of nationwide strike over higher fuel prices. NGO Human Rights Watch 19 Nov said army 16 Nov allegedly killed fourteen men detained in Gassel Liddji, Soum province, Sahel region.
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.