OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso - On November 29th 2015, Burkina Faso held, according to the National Democratic Institute, “the freest, fairest and most competitive presidential and legislative elections” in its history, culminating in the election of former Prime Minister Roc Marc Christian Kaboré as president.
This historic event did not come without struggles and turmoil. Following his attempt to revise the country’s constitution in order to allow for his re-election in October 2014, Blaise Compaoré was forced to resign and flee to Cote D’Ivoire in light of popular uprising around the nation. The Compaoré government of 27 years was succeeded by an interim one, with Michel Kafando as President and Isaac Zida as Prime Minister. In September 2015, nearly a year after Compaoré’s departure, his former “Presidential Security Regimen (Régiment de la sécurité presidentielle, RSP)”, led by General Gilbert Diendéré, attempted a coup against the new transitional government and detained the new president, prime minister and the cabinet ministers. But, in a country prone to such political maneuvers, this last coup was a failed one. Within a week, after protests from citizens and the civil society as well as violent clashes between the two sides, the RSP capitulated and the coup ended.
This marks a new era in Burkinabe politics. First, the protests against former President Compaoré and his RSP included a vast majority of the population. The alliance between the different groups within the Burkinabè society was a major component of the success, or in this case, the failure of the coup d’état of September 2015. Secondly, the success of the elections was unprecedented. Indeed, contrary to times when Compaoré ran unopposed, the latest presidential elections were competitive and ended without any riot or disagreement. It saw the largest turnout, nearly 60 percent, of registered voters showing up at the urns. This was “the first time Burkina Faso has seen power pass from one civilian-led government to another as well as the country’s first election free from interference by the incumbent government.”
Kaboré recently announced his government as the leaders of the former Compaoré government face charges for the murder of Thomas Sankara, President until the coup of 1987, and his death.