Burkina Faso’s rise from the ashes: A popular movement, the fall of the president and a transitional government

The government of Burkina Faso, a West African nation, collapsed Thursday, the 30th of October of 2014, due to protests against President Blaise Compaoré’s plans to stay in office after 27 years in the position. Mr. Compaoré is a former soldier who seized power in a coup and then won several elections, the most recent in November 2010. He has always managed to stay in office through a combination of negotiation, conciliation and restrained use of firepower. After hours of protest, the bill to extend the term of Mr. Compaoré was dropped, yet the protests continued. The protest lead to the resignation of the president, making it the first time since the Arab Spring that a popular movement succeeded in removing an autocrat in sub-Saharan Africa.

Political and military leaders in Burkina Faso were not been able to name a civilian to lead a transition to democracy after the resignation of President Blaise Compaoré. As a result, Burkina Faso was a leaderless nation. Mr. Campaoré fled to Ivory Coast with the aid of France, which still exerts enormous influence in the region and maintains a special forces base in Burkina Faso as part of an international effort to combat Islamic militants. Presidents John Dramami Mahama of Ghana, Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and Macky Sall of Senegal, consulted with individuals, including traditional leaders, religious figures, opposition groups and the military, and have agreed to the outlines of a plan that immediately restores the Constitution and establishes an interim government.

The 16th of November of 2014, a charter was signed mapping out a year-long transition to elections. As a result, the 17th of November, political and military leaders in Burkina Faso chose Michel Kafando, a former foreign minister and previously Burkina Faso’s ambassador to the United Nations, to be the country’s interim president. Mr. Kafando was chosen by a special panel composed of religious, military, political, civil and traditional leaders. His first task will be to name a prime minister who will appoint a 25-member government.

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