Burkina Faso pro-democracy movement

Burkina Faso demonstrators against hunger

By William Whitlow:

Burkina Faso shaken by widespread protests

26 April 2011

The West African country of Burkina Faso has been hit by growing popular protests as well as dissent in the army. Bordering the Ivory Coast, the landlocked country has faced rising food prices, which have been exacerbated by the civil war in the Ivory Coast and French/United Nations intervention.

Supplies have been disrupted by the war and thousands of Burkinabes, who traditionally work in the Ivory Coast cocoa plantations, have fled home to this impoverished country.

Burkina, with a population of 16 million, is rated by the UN as the third poorest country in the world. Life expectancy for men is only 53 years. According to some estimates, the per capita annual income is just US$300. This is less than the average for sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. The loss of wages from the migrant cocoa workers has been a severe blow to both household incomes and the national economy.

President Blaise Compaore is increasingly under threat. He has sacked his government and top military chiefs, and taken over the post of defence minister himself. He recalled Luc Adolphe Tiao, Burkina’s ambassador to France, and appointed him prime minister. Former colonial power France has warned its citizens not to travel to Burkina.

Following the changes at the top, opposition politicians are expecting a clampdown on protests. The deputy general secretary of the CGT-B trade union federation, Bassolma Bazie, said, “This is quite clearly a sign that we are dealing with a government of repression.” He said the unions would call a demonstration May 1 if the government did not address grievances such as low pay and high taxes on essential goods.

Two weeks ago, the capital Ouagadougou saw the largest protest so far, with tens of thousands of people protesting against the high cost of living. Protests have built up since the beginning of the year in various parts of the country, with students communicating by Facebook in the pattern of Tunisia and Egypt.

6 thoughts on “Burkina Faso pro-democracy movement

  1. Burkina Faso: Students Protest


    Published: May 23, 2011

    Thousands of students took to the streets of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital, on Monday, burning tires and chanting in support of teachers who are demanding better conditions. Students also stormed the Education Ministry, destroying computers, smashing windows and burning documents. Teachers began striking last week for better living conditions.


  2. Pupils back up striking profs

    Tuesday 24 May 2011

    Thousands of students took to the streets of Ouagadougou on Monday, burning tires and chanting in support of striking teachers.

    Angry students also entered the education ministry, destroyed computers, smashed windows and burned documents on the streets outside.

    Demonstrators seized buses and forced drivers to drive around gathering more students, who chanted: “We want teachers back in class.”

    Some demanded the resignation of Education Minister Albert Ouedraogo.

    Teachers walked out last week to press demands for decent pay and smaller classes.

    Students had also demonstrated in the capital and across the country last week in support of their teachers, fearing that if the government failed to address their concerns the strike could lead to the cancellation of their final exams.

    “We want the government to know that investing in education is important and they have to listen to the teachers’ demands,” protester Adama Traore said.



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