Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Presidential Election Extravaganza this October, Part 1: Burkina Faso


There are three presidential elections scheduled for this coming October in ECOWAS countries: Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoie, and Guinea. I'll take a look at each one, starting today with Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso

Blaise Compaore came to power in 1987 in a deadly coup against his former colleague, Thomas Sankara, who came to power in a 1983 coup (yesterday was the 32nd anniversary of the Revolution) with the help of Compaore. Sankara, by the way, was a super charismatic guy, sometimes called "Africa's Che Guevara." Google his name and you'll find all kinds of cool graphics with quotes and such.
Compaore wasn't as charismatic as Sankara but he's pretty wily. After Sankara died in an "accident" during the 1987 coup (Sankara's death is finally being investigated now), Campaore shared power with two others in a triumvirate/junta, until the other two members of the triumvirate were tried and executed for allegedly plotting to overthrow Compaore in 1989. In 1991 he "won" 100% of the vote in an election that the opposition boycotted completely because of Compaore's refusal to hold a national conference on political reform. In 1996, Compaore's party merged with nine other parties to create the Congress for Democracy and Peace, which has been the ruling party ever since. In 1998 he won 88% of the vote in an election boycotted by the major opposition parties. 

In 2000, a constitutional amendment was passed that put a two-term limit on the presidency, and reducing term length from 7 to 5 years. Compaore argued that the term limit wasn't retroactive, and ran for a third term in 2005. 

The opposition was fractionalized among multiple parties, although most candidates were supported by multiple parties. The main opposition candidates were Bénéwendé Stanislas Sankara (who as far as I can tell is not related to Thomas Sankara), Philippe Ouédraogo (who as far as I can tell is not related to the President Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo that was overthrown in the 1983 coup; Philippe was a minister in Sankara's government), Ram Ouédraogo (who as far as I can tell is related to neither Jean-Baptiste nor Philippe; Ram was a minister in Campaore's government), and Laurent Bado. Hermann Yaméogo (who IS related to the country's first president, Maurice Yaméogo; Hermann is son of Maurice) was supported by nine different opposition parties, but at the last minute decided to boycott the election. However, he was too late to be taken off the ballot. Compaore ended up winning with 80% of the vote, 

In 2010, Bénéwendé Stanislas Sankara ran again and placed third. Hama Arba Diallo, whose party later officially merged with Philippe Ouédraogo's party to create PDS/Metba, placed second. The main opposition party, Union for Progress and Change (UPC) boycotted the election. Compaore again won with 80% of the vote. In 2011, soldiers mutinied in the capital over unpaid housing allowances and protests broke out throughout the country, demanding Campoare's resignation. Campaore fled the capital briefly before successfully negotiating with the army to put down the mutinies in protests. 



Last year, Compaore tried to have the constitution amended to allow for a third (or fifth, depending on when you start counting) term, but in October the people rose up and he stepped down. I think he is now hiding out in Cote d'Ivoire. Initially, Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida took power (after sidelining General Honoré Traoré, Compaore's former aide de camp), and then politician Michel Kafando was named interim president (and Zida appointed prime minister) until elections in October 2015. 

A new electoral code was adopted in April. One problem with the new code was that it attempted to ban supporters of Compaore's attempted constitutional amendment to run for president. These types of exclusions can be problematic. For example, in Ghana the CPP banned opposition parties and then was overthrown in a coup by officers who in turn banned the CPP. Three years after the CPP-less election, another coup removed the government. A more recent example of party-exclusion followed by political instability is the the de-Baathification policy implemented in Iraq after Saddam's overthrow in 2003. 

Compaore's CDP and six other parties took their case to the ECOWAS Court of Justice, who ruled that the ban was a violation of CDP supporters' human rights and the ban was overturned 3 weeks ago. 

So the CDP has a candidate in the election, and some other former supporters of Compaore are also running. 

Here are some candidates (out of 98 total!) who are running in October's election: 


  • Eddie Komboigo was selected as the candidate for Compaore's Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP).
  • Djibril Bassolé is the candidate for a new party, New Alliance of Faso (NAFA) formed earlier this year by former supporters of Compaore. Bassolé was Compaore's foreign minister (2007-2008, 2011-2014) and chief diplomat. Bassolé's supporters thought he would succeed Campaore. 
  • Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was president of the CDP party, and then in January last year left the CDP to start his own opposition party, the People's Movement for Progress.
  • The Alliance for Democracy and Federation-African Development Rally (ADF-RDA) is the second largest party in the legislature and supported Compaore in the 2005 and 2010 presidential elections. It recently said it would choose a candidate on August 8. But I thought the deadline to file was last Saturday. So I don't get it. Maybe they won't field their own candidate. 
  • Zéphirin Diabré is the candidate for the CDP's main opposition party, the Union for Progress and Change (UPC). UPC won 19 (of 127) seats in the 2012 elections, positioning it as the 3rd largest party after CDP and its ally, ADF-RDA. 
  • Bénéwendé Stanislas Sankara, who placed 2nd and 3rd against Compaore in 2005 and 2010, is running again as the candidate for his Sankarist party, Union for Rebirth-Sankarist Movement (UNIR-MS). UNIR-MS is the fourth largest party in the Parliament, with 4 of 127 seats following the 2012 elections. 
  • Ibrahim Kone is running for PDS/Metba, which has 2 seats in the Parliament. 
  • Salvador Maurice Yaméogo (second son of the country's first president, Maurice Yaméogo) is running for Rally of Democrats for Faso (RDF). RDF has 1 seat in the Parliament. 
  • Tahirou Barry is running as candidate for the National Rebirth Party (PAREN), the party of Laurent Bado, who came in 3rd in 2005. In 2012 PAREN lost its only seat in the Parliament.
  • Adama Kanazoé for the Alliance of Youth for Independence and the Republic (AJIR) - this seems to me a new party but I'm not sure
  • Jean-Baptiste Natama, who was a supporter of Thomas Sankara that didn't join with Compaore, for a "party" that is apparently called Collectif Natama2015
  • Ablassé Ouédraogo for Le Faso, which as far as I can tell is also a new party. He served as Compaore's foreign minister from 1994-1999. And as far as I know he's not related to the other Ouedraogos. 
Clearly Burkina Faso continues to have a highly fractionalized party system (74 parties competed in the 2012 parliamentary elections, and 13 won seats), with most parties centered around a leading personality rather than policy platforms.  

And clearly there are some names that are very common among Burkina politicians. 

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