Blaise Compaore fights to hold on to power in Burkina Faso
22 Nov 2010 by Ahmed M Kamara in Breaking News, 1710 Views Burkina Faso, 1710 Views West Africa 1710 Views
The people of Burkina Faso went to the polls on Sunday to vote for what should be a new president in an election that the current Head of State, Blaise Compaore, has already secured victory for himself and is expected to win outright. In the past, Compaore has suppressed any legitimate opposition to his presidency by intimidation and threats to anyone challenging his stay in power. In attempts to camouflage his ruthless political lifestyle, Compaore has been carving for himself a mediator role in the region. He has set himself up recently to be the principal mediator in political crises in neighbouring Guinea and Ivory Coast, two countries that have held their own presidential elections in recent weeks.
Blaise Compaore’s political history is as volatile as his rule has been. He assumed power in a coup d’état in 1987 and is now seeking another fresh mandate from the country’s electorate. This will be his fourth term in office if re-elected. The country’s constitution has been manipulated to make way for him to hold on to the presidency. He had adopted a Mugabe-style approach using intimidation to muscle his way into political longevity. The country’s revised constitution states that from 2002, the year of the text’s revision, presidents are eligible to serve two consecutive terms of five years provided they were elected through “direct universal suffrage”. Compaore was re-elected president in successive elections in 1991, 1998 and 2005, without any serious challenge to his presidency.
After having been referred to as the “enfant terrible of Ziniaré”: reference to the provincial town where he was born, he has every reason to be particularly confident this time. Nearly everyone in Burkina Faso’s political circles agrees that his reputation, once as a strongman, has shifted to that of a man of peace. He has become an elder statesman of West Africa, a region that has had its own share turbulent political crisis in recent years. In the past Compaore has been accused by countries including Mauritania, Liberia and Ivory Coast, of arming rebellions for his own gain. Accusations he has strongly denied.
© 2010, Ahmed M Kamara. All rights reserved.