How can we discern what is happening in Burkina Faso? We can’t.

We can see only some things from among the many that are happening.  We cannot distinguish among a variety of possibilities.

What discerning can we do from what we are seeing?

  • In Texas hold ’em, you do not fold because your opponent acts like he has a strong hand, when you know that you have a strong hand and you know that your opponent is very likely to be bluffing.  The regular army is perhaps a bad or inexperienced poker player, or really does not want to fight right now.  The army has apparently agreed to withdraw 50 km (from where is not clear, there are bases in the center of town, why would they withdraw from those bases?)  That is, they appear to have folded even before raising the ante and seeing if Diendéré would fold.
  • Neither Kafando nor Zida appear willing to put themselves at tremendous risk, and simply lay down on the tracks and say, “you have to use force on me.”  If they did, we would see them tomorrow at the airport physically blocking Diendéré from meeting ECOWAS presidents at the airport.
  • Civil society organizations like Balai Citoyen are not as powerful or organized as they might be. Otherwise they might be organizing a human encirclement of Kosyam, or the airport, literally lying on the streets in civil disobedience and forcing Diendéré and his soldiers to remove them by force.
  • Money is talking?  Ex-President Blaise Compaoré’s private fortune has not been estimated to my knowledge.  Would ECOWAS presidents adopt a very conciliatory tone with Diendéré in return for $10 million each in a private secret bank account?  Must be tempting.
  • Is it all about Salif Diallo?  In interviews after and in the period before his flight from Ouagadougou, Compaoré and CDP allies cast a lot of blame on Salif Diallo, as someone who betrayed the party and the regime.  If the military leaders are of the same mind, then we are in a side show, with the real show down yet to come, when Roch Marc Christian Kaboré possibly wins a Presidential election.  In that showdown, if Diendéré still controls a fully armed and operational RSP, it is clear who will win.

About mkevane

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