Reform the the RSP in Burkina Faso! Or, maybe not.

Finally got a chance to read the report by General Diendéré on the RSP.  Not sure if lefaso.net has a leaked copy or if it was officially released.  The pdf file is missing page 13, but nevertheless the key takeaway of the report is pretty clear: Do not change anything.

The only thing anyone learns, actually, in reading the report is that the RSP is composed of about 1,000 men (and some women? though none among the 10 signatories to the report).  Which just reminds us of how small the selectorate is in West African states.

Several pages are devoted to description of the recruitment process, and denial that there is any ethnic or regional bias in the RSP.  They could have presented the breakdown by ethnicity/region.

The report is a missed opportunity.  The Burkinabè public would have been well-served by a transparent and honest account of the decisions taken during the October 31 events and aftermath.  Why did the RSP leadership for example decide to contravene the Army chief and assume power themselves?  Surely any report worth its name would have devoted a dozen pages to analyzing the confusion surrounding the situation, the discussions that took place, the options that were on the table, the process by which a decision was taken, and the assessment of the outcome (with Zida installed eventually as Prime Minister).  But no, nothing like that in this report.

The report also would have been the opportunity to establish responsibility for key “crimes of blood” committed during the Compaoré regime, and suggest reforms to prevent the RSP from being used to assassinate or harass regime opponents.  But instead, there is simply no mention of the reason why a “fringe” (to use the word Diendéré uses in the report) wants to dissolve or seriously reform the RSP.

Sadly, though, other than Vincent Ouattara’s work (largely unavailable in Burkina Faso at least before 2015, maybe now more accessible), there is no widely distributed tract to counterweight the attempt to whitewash the RSP.

About mkevane

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