Weekly ECOWAS Region Update – Burkina Faso

Political Dynamics in Burkina Faso

Merger of Sankarist parties – UNIR/PS and MPS

One of the major political events in Burkinabé political scene this October ending is the congress of a coalition of the Sankarist and progressive parties, embarked on by the Union pour la renaissance / Sankariste Party (UNIR / PS ) and the Patriotic Movement for Salvation (MPS). The Coalition Congress which commenced in August is expected to have its final establishment ceremony on October 30, 31 and November 1, 2021. Antecedent to the event, progressive parties and organizations that have a progressive vision were called to join the coalition. And five political parties responded favorably to the call. The ceremony will be marked with the signing of the merger protocol. Expected to attain success at both national and grassroots levels, general assemblies have already been organized in Ouagadougou, Bobo-Dioulasso, Yako and soon in Réo. After the congress, further information on the coalition, its representative for the Municipal elections, etc. will be made known to the Burkinabe citizens[1].

Municipal elections May 2022

In preparation for the municipal elections of May 2022, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), the national body in charge of organizing polls and referendums, has already commenced work. However, before the commencement of work, it can be recalled that the Council of Ministers in early October 2021 adopted a decree on the exceptional revision of the electoral register from November 14, 2021 to January 31, 2022. The revision of the electoral register is intended to permit Burkinabè citizens who have reached the age of electoral majority since the last elections, to register on the electoral rolls and to be able to enjoy their right to vote. To this effect, CENI informed the political stakeholders during the consultation that exemptional revision will be open from November 14, 2021, to January 31, 2022.  Nevertheless, this will be preceded by the breaking out of CENI into other Commissions.

In line with their tasks, a consultation was subsequently held with political parties and civil society organizations on the organizational aspects of the revision of the electoral register. One of the major concerns raised during the consultation was on the management of internally displaced persons and insecurity in certain areas. In response to this, the CENI team promised to keep the political actors informed on the different stages of their preparations through subsequent meetings[2].

CENI breaks out into other Commissions

The weekend of October 16 and 17, 2021 witnessed the breaking out of CENI into other Commissions in preparations to avoid the electoral violence of 2016. The new Commissions are the Independent Provincial Electoral Commission ( CEPI), the Independent Communal Electoral Commission (CECI) / the Independent District Electoral Commission (CEIA).

According to the calendar of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), the period from 12 to 21 October 2021 is devoted to the establishment of these new structures, followed by the swearing-in of their members. The creation of new structures reduces the burden of electoral operations on CENI.

As expected, several political parties have already made moves to have representatives in these structures. Such as the Alliance of political parties and formations of the presidential majority (APMP) led by the party in power, the People’s Movement for Progress (MPP, ruling party) and the Leader of the Political Opposition in Burkina Faso (CFOP-BF), headed by the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP, the former ruling party), the leading force in the political opposition[3].

Trouble in CDP ahead of the Municipal Elections

The former ruling party, the party of the overthrown Blaise Compaore, the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), is witnessing massive resignations of members in at the municipal level, months before the municipal elections. More than 150 members of the basic structures of the party tendered their resignation from the party on October 15. Additionally, out of 130 members of the National Executive Board, 33 members have reportedly resigned recently[4]. This is claimed to be caused by unheeded complaints against the poor and problematic management of the party. This wave of collective resignations will undoubtedly extend the list of executives and basic members who have left the ship.

Reacting to the resignations in the CDP, the secretary for the organization of the party and vice-president of the National Assembly, Boubacar Sannou, has spoken his own truth on the open crisis the party has been facing in recent weeks. Penning down a letter[5] to all CDP activists, he frowned at the current affairs within the party, characterized by acts of violence, criticisms against the president of the party demanding his resignation, executives resigning from the organs and authorities of the party, etc.

He linked the resignations of the executives to their inability to maintain the tremendous lifestyles and illegal benefits they accessed as benefits of their membership, caused by the sudden loss of power in October 2014. Highlighting that the loss of power equates to the loss of the benefits of power, he outlined various reasons why the activists, businessmen, opportunists, service providers, etc.,  left the party. In his opinion, those who no longer have their accounts, those who want to launder or protect their ill-gotten assets who can neither launder nor protect ill-gotten goods by activating in an opposition party and the egoists who do not want to share what they have had thanks to the party, can only migrate to greener grasslands. Seeking for an excuse to exit, they get the president to wear the hat, using his human resources management as the excuse; while they migrate directly to the MPP, the ruling party or one of its satellite parties; and with membership in the hope of accessing state resources to continue to maintain their lifestyle.

He applauded the efforts of the party president, Eddie Konboigo, and also encouraged the true CDP activists to remain convinced that politics is not the sector of enrichment, but the search for solutions to the concerns of the populations.

CDP: Members of the National Executive Board suspended for six months

Amidst the ongoing resignations, three activists, members of the National Executive Bureau (BEN) of the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) were suspended for six months[6], on October 16 as a disciplinary measure following an ugly incident involving youths of the party during a press conference on September 23. They are the National Secretary for the mobilization of young people, Adama Tiendrébeogo, the 2nd Deputy Secretary for the mobilization of young people Ghislain Konseiga and the 4th Deputy Secretary in charge of the mobilization of young people of the party, Baguian Abdoul Karim. They are prohibited from speaking on behalf of the CDP and from participating in party activities during these six months of suspension.

Burkina Faso was applauded by the AU for enormous efforts in the fight against corruption

A delegation from the African Advisory Council on Corruption of the African Union visited the presidency in mid-October. The delegation, led by the president of the council Jean-Louis Andriamifidy, went on a mission to take stock of the implementation of the African Union Convention on the prevention and the fight against corruption, which Burkina Faso ratified on November 25, 2005[7].

The meeting served also as an opportunity to discuss the concerns of the Union over the country. One of such is the problem of illicit financial leakage which seriously compromises the development of the continent as shown by studies that Africa loses nearly 80 billion dollars yearly to illicit financial leaks. As a result, the advisory council of the African Union was therefore mandated to work on finding amendments to integrate this aspect into the continental anti-corruption mechanism and Burkina Faso, being the land of upright men, was chosen to serve as a pilot in the development of this amendment.

However, based on documentation received from the Burkinabe government, the council applauded the good practices of Burkina Faso in the implementation of the convention and acknowledged the government’s enormous efforts to comply with the provisions of the convention, particularly when referred to the legal framework that has been put in place.

This is nevertheless contrary to the outcries of the citizens[8] who have described the council’s remarks and observations as a beautiful irony, a beautiful staging, and the unwanted caress which further the disconnection of the current government with the reality of the country. In their opinion, this reflects why the president is not bothered about his government squandering the meagre resources on self-gratifying projects. Some even went on to request for the publication of the documentation that showed the government’s efforts at curbing corruption.

Risks on Security and Societal Dynamics

The Burkinabè National Armed Forces Welcome New Leaders

Early October marked a new turn for the leadership of the Burkinabe National Armed Forces. The change of leadership could also be linked to the terrorist attacks the country has experienced in recent days. Consequently, the Head of State appointed new military leaders by decree, with only the post of Chief of Staff of the Army, currently occupied by Colonel-Major Gilles Bationo, being spared. At the national gendarmerie and at the level of the air force, the new bosses were the assistants of their predecessors. As well as the Chief of General Staff of the Armies[9]. Below are more details on these new faces eagerly awaited in the field of the fight against terrorism.

  • Gilbert Ouédraogo, previously deputy to Moise Miningou, now Chief of the General Staff of the Armies. Aged 59, Brigadier General Gilbert Ouédraogo replaces General Moïse Miningou at the head of the armed forces and is the third chief of the general staff of the armies appointed by the president of Faso in six years of exercise of power. Appointed Deputy of General Moise Miningou in 2018, a few weeks after the double terrorist attack of the General Staff of the Armies and the French Embassy in Ouagadougou, on March 2, he will spend three years in the newly occupied seat.
  • Colonel-Major Vinta Somé, 57, former PMK battalion commander is now the Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces, assisting Brigadier General Gilbert Ouédraogo. As the current deputy chief of staff of the armed forces, he will have several structures under his control, in accordance with the organization chart of the EMGA. These are the General secretariat, the Centre for Information and Communication Systems, the Archives and Documentation Service, the Personnel, Training, Chancellery and Legislation, Operations, Military Intelligence and the Deputy Head of Operations divisions.
  • Colonel Souleymane Ouédraogo is the new captain taking the controls at the Air Force level. Before his appointment as Chief of Staff of the Air Force, he had been Colonel Kounsaouma Palenfo’s deputy since April 2017.
  • And lastly, Colonel-Major Omer Marie Hermann Bambara takes the reins as the new boss of the national gendarmerie. He replaces his namesake Omer Marie Bruno Tapsoba, the successor of Colonel Tuandaba Marcel Coulibaly since May 2017.

With this new batch of leaders, citizens hope for effective results in the fight against terrorism.

Joint Sahel Program in response to the triple C challenges

The joint Sahel program, (SD3C-G5 Sahel + Senegal), initiated to remedy the consequences of Covid-19, Conflicts and Climate change trio for family farms in rural areas, has commenced its activities. Though launched in Ouagadougou on July 16, 2021, the activities of this program officially started on October 20, 2021, with a technical start-up workshop. The SD3C-G5 Sahel + Senegal program is an initiative of the G5 Sahel, led by Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Senegal in collaboration with IFAD, FAO and WFP and aims to provide support at the level of different countries, especially cross-border areas to mitigate, terminate and ensure the producers can resume their activities calmly. Worth a total of $ 14 million, the SD3C-G5 Sahel + Senegal program has a duration of six years sequenced in two phases of three years each. In Burkina Faso, the intervention zone is made up of border areas with humanitarian access in the Sahel, Boucle du Mouhoun and North regions[10].

Several actions and activities will be carried out in particular at the level of support for production and agricultural productivity. Stakeholders and producers will also benefit from support to rebuild their capital. If for some, their needs are at the level of the herd, others on the other hand will receive kits to relocate and start again on good productions. These would include internally displaced persons who have lost their land due to insecurity. In terms of key indicators, the program targets, among others, 20,000 rural households of which 52% are women and 40% are young people; 75% of beneficiaries declare an improvement in their livelihoods and resilience.

The workshop, which served as an avenue for the main actors to take ownership of the program and have a common understanding and effective anticipatory strategies in favour of the implementation of subsequent activities, brought together more than sixty participants made up of the program’s administrative and decentralized authorities, representatives of general directorates, decentralized technical services, umbrella organizations, partner projects and programs, etc.

Some of the themes discussed at the workshop include sexual exploitation and harassment amidst the three-C challenges, investments and social dialogue at borders that will facilitate access to markets for agro-pastoral communities, etc. Similar to this, several other organizations in West Africa have initiated or embarked on various advocacies, programmes and projects aimed at softening the adverse effects of the triple-C challenges. One of such is the Centre for Democracy and Development, West Africa, which held a virtual roundtable to reflect and propose sustainable solutions to these challenges across West Africa. These initiatives have among others, the advantages of providing small producers with access to new economic opportunities with capacities more suited to the challenges of climate change, thanks to the support for increasing productivity and production; facilitating capacity building that can enhance the establishment of productive partnerships between breeders and farmers, etc.

Europe-Burkina Cooperation: Joint Fight against Impunity in Burkina Faso

The Belgian Development Agency (ENABEL) together with the Swiss NGO CONGINTA launched two major projects in early October[11]: the Support Project for the Strengthening of Justice to Combat Impunity (PARJI) and the Support Project for the Strengthening of military justice and local justice to fight against impunity (AJUMPJU). Concerned by the blockages the criminal chain faces which have contributed to the deterioration of security and the increase in crime, despite notable advances in the Burkinabe judicial system, the European Union has launched a program called the “Justice Program” in Burkina Faso.

This program, funded to the tune of 6.5 billion CFA francs by the EU, will be implemented through two projects: the Support Project for the Strengthening of Justice to Fight Impunity (PARJI) and the Project of ‘support for the strengthening of military justice and local justice to fight against impunity (AJUMPJU). While PARJI will be implemented by the Belgian Development Agency (ENABEL), the AJUMJU project will be executed by the Swiss NGO CONGINTA, and both will ensure equal access to justice for all in order to combat the feeling of impunity, and enhance a climate of trust between the populations and the judicial authorities of Burkina. The project interventions are also mainly at two levels: the first being the functioning of the penal chain of the judicial system and the second emphasizing the access of poor and vulnerable populations to the public service of justice in order to strengthen the credibility of the judicial system. In addition, the projects will be implemented over a period of three years, from 2021 to 2024.

Burkina-Niger cooperation: Towards a Joint Partnership against Terrorism

On the African front, cooperation is also brewing between Burkina Faso and an African counterpart. Visited by the President of the Republic of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, on October 17 and 18, 2021, Burkinabe president Roch Kaboré and Bazoum revisited the lines of cooperation between their two countries[12]. Threatened by the terrorist phenomenon which is shaking the peace of the two countries, the two heads of the state affirmed their desire to pool forces across several military and civilian areas. It is in this spirit that they welcomed the encouraging results recorded by the “Taanli” operation, conducted in June 2021 by units from Niger and Burkina Faso, with a view to considerably reducing the capacities of armed terrorist groups at the common borders. Consequently, both agreed to intensify cooperation to counter the terrorist phenomenon and to continue advocating with the United Nations Security Council and partners in order to put in place a mechanism guaranteeing long-term financing of the joint force.

Apart from security issues, other discussions centred on socio-economic development, emphasizing the need for the two countries to reactivate the Burkina-Niger mixed commission, whose last discussion meeting dates back to 2013; and also the socio-political situation in Mali and Guinea-Conakry. Concerning Mali, the two leaders jointly advocated for elections in February 2022, condemning any argument intended to be used as a pretext for not holding the elections on the scheduled date. They also expressed their willingness to work to strengthen cooperation between their two countries, with a view to bringing their peoples closer together.

Covid-19 in Burkina: 5 deaths and 34 new cases registered

In a communique released on October 20 by the government’s Information Service, the assessment of the Covid-19 situation in Burkina shows 34 new cases registered on October 18, 2021. These include 13 cases in Ouagadougou, 07 in Bobo-Dioulasso, 02 in Banfora, 01 in Houndé , 02 in Tougan, 01 N’Dorola, 02 in Dedougou, 01 in Boromo, 01 in Nouns, 02 in Fada, 01 in Manni and 01 in Tenkodogo. On the same date, the country, unfortunately, recorded 05 new deaths, bringing the total to 214. On the positive side, 24 new healings were also recorded, bringing the total to 14,287 as of October 18[13].

Since the first of March 9 2020, Burkina has registered a total of 14,793 confirmed cases, including 5,482 women and 9,311 men. Regarding vaccination, a total of 325,119 people were vaccinated. Consequently, the government continues to urge the citizens to respect the Covid measures to protect themselves and others.

Recommendations

  • Other ECOWAS Member States are encouraged to imitate the example of the Burkinabe in establishing new commissions to undertake some of the responsibilities of CENI. This in turn unburdens the election body and also enhances more effectiveness in conducting elections.
  • On the society scale, the government is encouraged to work towards the decentralization of the countries resources. Attention should be paid to the outcry of the masses. In the long run, this will prevent agitations that could force military interferences.

[1] This was deduced from an interview with the organization’s manager, MP Halidou Sanfo, available at https://lefaso.net/spip.php?article108366

[2] Burkina / Municipal elections 2022: The actors in the process consult each other https://lefaso.net/spip.php?article108127

[3] Mise en place des démembrements de la CENI : Bien préparer le terrain pour éviter les violences électorales de 2016 ! https://lefaso.net/spip.php?article108398

[4] Commune de Banfora/CDP : Plus de 150 militants rendent leur démission, la gestion du parti décriée https://lefaso.net/spip.php?article108315

[5] Démissions au CDP : « Le MPP et ses partis satellites deviendront bientôt un albatros avec ses colonnes d’opportunistes, d’affairistes … » (Boubacar Sannou) https://lefaso.net/spip.php?article108381

[6] Congress for Democracy and Progress: Six-month suspension for three members of the national executive board https://lefaso.net/spip.php?article108317

[7] Lutte contre la corruption : Le Burkina Faso « a fait d’énormes efforts » https://lefaso.net/spip.php?article108219

[8] The citizens’reactions were derived from comments made on the comment section of the article in Ibid

[9] Forces armées nationales burkinabè : Qui sont les nouveaux chefs ? https://lefaso.net/spip.php?article108082

[10] Burkina : Les activités du programme conjoint Sahel en réponse aux défis covid-19, conflits et changements climatiques lancées https://lefaso.net/spip.php?article108395

[11] Coopération Europe-Burkina : Lancement de deux projets pour lutter contre l’impunité au Burkina Faso https://lefaso.net/spip.php?article108075

[12] Coopération Burkina-Niger : Les présidents Roch Kaboré et Mohamed Bazoum mutualisent leurs forces contre le terrorisme https://lefaso.net/spip.php?article108350

[13] Covid-19 au Burkina : 34 nouveaux cas enrégistrés, 24 guérisons et 05 décès a la date du 18 octobre 2021 https://lefaso.net/spip.php?article108390

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