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Burkina Faso Transition

2 Nov

David O. Kuranga, Ph.D.

The author is the Managing Director and Principal of Kuranga and Associates, a full-service investment, political and economic risk consultancy, and asset management firm that specializes in Africa. He is also the author of The Power of Interdependence with Palgrave Macmillan Press.

After days of protests, longtime President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compoare resigned after 27 years in office. His term was due to end next year in 2015. Instead, as a result of his maneuvers to extend his tenure, amending the rules to stand for office again, massive protests erupted throughout the capital forcing him to abruptly resign in a written statement and flee to Ivory Coast. The next day the Army Chief of Staff, General Traore, announced that he was taking over as head of state until elections were held. Immediately the next day, Colonel Zida, the second in command of the Presidential Guard announced that he was head of state. After a meeting between Troare and Zida, senior officers have accepted Zida as head of state. The presidential guard was a separate elite division of the army under Compoare’s rule. They were better funded, with sophisticated weapons, and are generally believed to be superior to the rest of the armed forces. It is no surprise that the two factions have fielded competing claims to power and that the presidential guard faction prevailed.

Going forward, the tenure of Colonel Zida will also be short-lived. The regional block, ECOWAS who he pleaded with to accept and recognize his ascent to power, will not recognize unconstitutional transfers of power. The current head of ECOWAS, Ghanian leader, President Mahama, has already called for the country to respect its constitution. As detailed in my book, The Power of Interdependence, the EOCWAS West African regional block has a long history of rejecting seizures of power by the military. Recently in Mali, the regional block prevented an army captain there from consolidating power, forcing him to hand over to civilian leaders. Just as in Mali, Zida will be forced to hand over to civilian transitional leaders. Under the country’s constitution the senate president is suppose to assume power until elections are held. The Senate is a controversial and relatively new creation, however regional leaders will first look to produce a legitimate transitional leader. Regardless of who assumes the role of civilian transitional leader, ECOWAS power brokers will push them to form a government of national unity comprising of members of the ruling party and the opposition.

Despite how it may appear today, the situation in Burkina Faso is not as unstable as it seems. Regional power brokers led by President Mahama of Ghana have been monitoring the situation in Burkina Faso very closely. In addition, they have teams on the ground to guide the process. These teams will remain on the ground until the transition has taken place. Afterward they will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that key stakeholders adhere to regional standards. The process through which this will occur is outlined in my book, The Power of Interdependence.

Kuranga and Associates Global Consultancy is a political and economic risk management firm and an asset manager with a principle practice area of Africa. To learn more about Kuranga and Associates go to © Copyright 2014 David Kuranga. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

David O. Kuranga; Ph.D. Managing Director
Kuranga & Associates Global Consultancy
Phone: 212.363.0936