Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso 

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Overview

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

Burkina Faso, which means “land of honest men”, has significant reserves of gold, but the country has faced domestic and external concern over the state of its economy and human rights. A former French colony, it gained independence as Upper Volta in 1960.

In 1983 Capt Thomas Sankara seized power and adopted radical left-wing policies but was ousted by Blaise Compaore, who went on to rule for 27 years before being ousted in a popular uprising in 2014. Between 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
  • 1896 – Kingdoms now making up Burkina Faso become a French protectorate, later known as Upper Volta.
  • 1960 – Upper Volta becomes independent with Maurice Yameogo as president. He is overthrown in 1966 by Sangoule Lamizana.
  • 1980 – President Lamizana is ousted in coup led by Saye Zerbo, who is overthrown two years later by Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo, ushering in a period of unrest and power struggles.
  • 1984 – Upper Volta renamed Burkina Faso.
  • 1990 – Blaise Compaore, who assumed power when he ousted and killed then-leader Capt Thomas Sankara in 1987, introduces limited democratic reforms. He remains in power for 27 years.
  • 2000 – Government agrees to set up UN-run body to monitor weapons imports after allegations that it has been involved in smuggling arms to rebels in Sierra Leone and Angola.
  • 2011 – Months of unrest, including a mutiny.
  • 2014 – President Compaore steps aside following massive protests against plans to extend his rule. A transitional government takes charge.
  • 2015 – Acting President Kafando faces down coup attempt by presidential guard allies of Blaise Compaore. In November, former Prime Minister Roch Marc Christian Kabore wins presidential election.
  • 2016 – Islamists attack a hotel and cafe frequented by the French military and other expatriates, killing 29 people.
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Fun Trivia Facts

Burkina Faso
Capital: Ouagadougou

  • 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

Other African Nations.

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