Burkina Faso after the recent socio-political shocks

Published on Pambazuka News, by Paul Kéré, July 7, 2011.

The recent political upheaval in Burkina Faso demonstrates the fragility of peace, writes Paul Kéré, with the country facing numerous challenges around ensuring affordable staple foods, public health, its economy and the handover of power … //

… THE ECONOMY

The economy is, par excellence, the foundation for all policy actions. To ‘compete’, you need competitive businesses and a domestic market that can carry its own weight. Burkina Faso is the main provider of meat to Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and a good number of other countries in the region. More than ever, the challenge consists of further strengthening an economy mainly orientated towards our own strengths. To the envy of many other countries, we have significant human resources to achieve this, not only intellectual but rural, agricultural, pastoral and artisanal. We need to actively upgrade these different sectors through our local authorities. It is from them and their upgrading that we must begin step by step towards the recovery of a sustainable development in our country. 

With this in mind, the installation of reservoirs in villages, the development of light industrial processing and the pursuit of an emergent service economy or service sector will without doubt absorb unemployed youth and raise the state coffers with foreign currency. Only at such a point would confidence be renewed in the men and women of politics.

ON THE POLITICAL FRONT: THE HANDOVER OF POWER

The handover of power, beyond the constitutional rules of the current two-term limitation on holding presidential office, unavoidably constitutes a natural law which no global leader could sustainably oppose. In Burkina Faso, the recurring question of the revision of article 37 plays on everyone’s mind. Several political leaders, as many from the presidential majority as from the opposition parties, have already expressed their views on this constitutional amendment or non-amendment. The two positions are incompatible. In our humble opinion, the constitutional amendment is inconceivable under current circumstances without the consent and full support of all sections of our people, including the opposition parties. In such a case there would be no ambiguity, and the recent various demonstrations must serve to guide us.

Indeed, the obvious frustrations of the Burkinabe opposition parties can be understood. These opposition parties are well aware that in the current democratic game in Burkina Faso, they will not be able to (unless there is a better mobilisation of the electorate in the towns and above all in the countryside) gain access through majority to national representation and even less so to the highest summit of the state.

Be that as it may, we will all win in Burkina Faso if we bring together all the sections of our people, including civil society actors and opposition parties, in the announced policy reforms and, in particular, by taking into consideration the profound aspirations of our peoples (concerning education, health, employment, etc).

Only in fighting effectively against social inequalities by offering a noticeably more equitable sharing of the existing riches in our country will we be able to harvest all of our strengths and our intelligence to the service of our people. We are perfectly aware, due to constraints of all kinds, that it’s easier to write than to realise these wishes.

However, to govern is to foresee and to predict, to try and resolve here and now the existential problems of our people. It is the responsibility of our government, and of all people, at whatever level they may find themselves, to contribute to the construction of the Burkinabe edifice. Together, we shall overcome! (full long text).

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