Burkina Faso Africa

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Burkina Faso 

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Overview

A poor country even by West African standards, landlocked Burkina Faso has suffered from recurring droughts and, until the 1980’s, military coups.

 burkinaBetween 14,000 and 5000 BC, Burkina Faso was populated by hunter-gatherers in the country’s northwestern region. Farm settlements appeared between 3600 and 2600 BC.[citation needed] What is now central Burkina Faso was principally composed of Mossi kingdoms. These Mossi Kingdoms became a French protectorate in 1896. After gaining independence from France in 1960, the country underwent many governmental changes until arriving at its current form, a semi-presidential republic. The president is Blaise Compaoré.

With French help, the incumbent Blaise Compaoré seized power in a coup d’état in 1987, betraying his long-time friend and ally Thomas Sankara, who was killed in the coup.
The constitution of 2 June 1991 established a semi-presidential government with a parliament which can be dissolved by the President of the Republic, who is elected for a term of seven years.
In 2000, the constitution was amended to reduce the presidential term to five years. The amendment took effect during the 2005 elections. The amendment also would have prevented the incumbent president, Blaise Compaoré, from being reelected.
However, in October 2005, notwithstanding a challenge by other presidential candidates, the constitutional council ruled that, because Compaoré was the sitting president in 2000, the amendment would not apply to him until the end of his second term in office. This cleared the way for his candidacy in the 2005 election. On 13 November, Compaoré was reelected in a landslide, because of a divided political opposition.
In the 2010 November Presidential elections, President Compaoré was re-elected. Only 1.6 million Burkinabès voted, out of a total population 10 times that size.
The parliament consists of one chamber known as the National Assembly which has 111 seats with members elected to serve five-year terms. There is also a constitutional chamber, composed of ten members, and an economic and social council whose roles are purely consultative.
There are attempts to decentralize power by the government of President Blaise Compaoré by devolving some of its powers to regions and municipal authorities. But the distrust towards politicians and the lack of political involvement complicates this process. Critics still speak of hybrid decentralisation.
Political freedoms are severely restricted in Burkina Faso, with human rights organizations decrying numerous acts of state-sponsored violence against journalists and other politically active members of society.

The Situation

Burkina Faso has faced domestic and external concern over the state of its economy and human rights, and allegations that it was involved in the smuggling of diamonds by rebels in Sierra Leone.

Troubles in neighbouring Ivory Coast have raised tensions, with Ivory Coast accusing its northern neighbour of backing rebels in the north and Burkina Faso accusing Ivory Coast of mistreating expatriate Burkinabes.

The country employs numerous police and security forces, generally modeled after organizations used by French police, and France continues to provide significant support and training to police forces in Burkina Faso. The Gendarmerie Nationale is organized along military lines, with most police services delivered at the brigade level. The Gendarmerie operates under the authority of the Minister of Defence, and its members are employed chiefly in the rural areas and along borders.

There is also a municipal police force controlled by the Ministry of Territorial Administration; a national police force controlled by the Ministry of Security; and an autonomous Presidential Security Regiment (Régiment de la Sécurité Présidentielle, or RSP), a ‘palace guard’ devoted to the protection of the President of the Republic. Both the gendarmerie and the national police are subdivided into both administrative and judicial police functions; the former are detailed to protect public order and provide security, the latter are charged with criminal investigations.
All foreigners and citizens are required to carry photo ID passports, or other forms of identification or risk a fine, and police spot identity checks are commonplace for persons traveling by auto, bush-taxi, or bus.

The army consists of some 6,000 men in voluntary service, augmented by a part-time national People’s Militia composed of civilians between 25 and 35 years of age who are trained in both military and civil duties. According to Jane’s Sentinel Country Risk Assessment, Burkina Faso’s Army is undermanned for its force structure and poorly equipped, but has numbers of wheeled light-armour vehicles, and may have developed useful combat expertise through interventions in Liberia and elsewhere in Africa.
In terms of training and equipment, the regular Army is believed to be neglected in relation to the élite Presidential Security Regiment (RSP). Reports have emerged in recent years of disputes over pay and conditions. There is an air force with some 19 operational aircraft, but no navy, as the country is landlocked. Military expenses constitute approximately 1.2% of the nation’s GDP.
In April 2011, there was an army mutiny; the president named new chiefs of staff, and a curfew was imposed in Ouagadougou.

Burkina Faso has one of the lowest GDP per capita figures in the world: $1,200. Agriculture represents 32% of its gross domestic product and occupies 80% of the working population. It consists mostly of livestock but also, especially in the south and southwest, of growing sorghum, pearl millet, maize (corn), peanuts, rice and cotton. A large part of the economic activity of the country is funded by international aid.
Burkina Faso was ranked the 111th safest investment destination in the world in the March 2011 Euromoney Country Risk rankings.
Remittances used to be an important source of income to Burkina Faso until the 1990s, when unrest in Côte d’Ivoire, the main destination for Burkinabe emigrants, forced many to return home. Remittances now account for less than 1% of GDP.
Burkina Faso is part of the West African Monetary and Economic Union (UMEOA) and has thus adopted the CFA Franc, which is issued by the Central Bank of the West African States (BCEAO), situated in Dakar, Senegal. The BCEAO is not only responsible for the monetary and reserve policy of the member states, but also for the regulation and oversight of financial sector and banking activity. A legal framework regarding licensing, bank activities, organizational and capital requirements, inspections and sanctions (all applicable to all countries of the Union) is in place and underwent significant reforms in 1999. Micro-finance institutions are governed by a separate law, which regulates micro-finance activities in all WAEMU countries. The insurance sector is regulated through the Inter-African Conference on Insurance Markets (CIMA).
There is mining of copper, iron, manganese, gold, cassiterite (tin ore), and phosphates. These operations provide employment, international aid, and in some cases hospitals at mines for the public. Gold production increased 32% in 2011 at six gold mine sites, making Burkina Faso the fourth largest gold producer in Africa, after South Africa, Mali and Ghana.
Burkina Faso also hosts the International Art and Craft Fair, Ouagadougou, better known by its French name as SIAO, Le Salon International de l’ Artisanat de Ouagadougou, one of the most important African handicraft fairs.
Burkina Faso is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).

 

Fun Trivia Facts
  • Full name: Burkina Faso
  • Population: 17.4 million (UN, 2012)
  • Capital: Ouagadougou
  • Area: 274,200 sq km (105,870 sq miles)
  • Major languages: French, indigenous languages
  • Major religions: Indigenous beliefs, Islam, Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 55 years (men), 57 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes
  • Main exports: Cotton, animal products, gold
  • GNI per capita: US $580 (World Bank, 2011)
  • Internet domain: .bf
  • International dialling code: +226
Burkina Faso is a leading cotton producer in sub-Saharan Africa

Burkina Faso is a leading cotton producer in sub-Saharan Africa

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