Burkina Faso: President Compaoré’s arrogance and miscalculation not different from any other dictator’s

President Blaise Compaoré looks like he is about to be ousted, as a popular uprising today has led the regime to collapse.  Pretty much his own fault.  He had numerous opportunities over 2014 to engineer a graceful transition of power in 2015.  He decided not to. Just a month ago, Burkinabè were hopeful that talks between opposition and the President, face-to-face, explicitly about the transition, might lead to a compromise.  We may never know what and whom from Compaoré’s inner circle prevented that, and now it is too late.

Last week his main counselor, Assimi Kouanda, head of the CDP, the political party that controls the National Assembly, announced that the CDP would move very quickly to modify the constitution and permit Compaoré  to stand for yet another term.  They then announced that they had allied with a smaller party, ADF-RDA, and had a 3/4 majority in the National Assembly, and so they did not even have to have a referendum, they could just amend the constitution to permit yet another term (or two!) for Compaoré.  And then they set a date, today Thursday.  And then they thumbed their noses at the opposition, and apparently rounded up the CDP deputees of the National Assembly and put them in a luxury hotel across the street from the Assembly.  Talk about making people even madder. The whole thing took on the clear appearance of unconstitutional and undemocratic “forcing” rather than what the CDP kept saying.  So in the morning the young crowd swelled, and the security forces decided they did not want to have a massacre just to let Compaoré stay in the palace, and the whole thing broke down.  Arrogance and miscalculation led to the downfall.

Gilbert Noel Ouedraogo, leader of ADF-RDA, now looks like he also made a major miscalculation in siding with Compaoré.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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