Burkina Faso Riots in Spring 2011

Burkina Faso Riots in Spring 2011


Riots in spring 2011 and their consequences

In previous years, especially in March and April 2008, there were large rallies and strikes against the inflation of life in Ouagadougou. Under the slogan “vie chère” a movement emerged that made itself heard through demonstrations with burning car tires. The state organs reacted with mass arrests. Groups of children have also been arrested without a legal basis.

In spring 2011, the development in the Ivory Coast led to renewed price increases, which provided new social fuel. The dissatisfaction with the prices mixed with that with other social grievances, pent-up anger and a spark of revolution that promised to jump out of Tunisia and Egypt. On 22 February 2011, the death of student Justin Zongo dissolved in Koudougou, as a result of ill-treatment by the police (the infamous lie and the official site, he died of meningitis), violent protests among students from. One of the slogans was: “Tunisia in Koudougou”. Police stations and police cars went up in flames not only in Koudougou, but also in Fada N’Gourma, Ouahigouya, Gaoua, Po, Leo and Tenkodogo. Koudougou alone mourned half a dozen deaths, including four other students. The occasion, like the discharge of the pent-up anger, remained apolitical, however. The attempt by 34 opposition parties to overthrow the president (” dégage Blaise “) in the wake of this unrest failed miserably.

In mid-April, soldiers of the Presidential Guard mutinied because they felt they had been cheated out of bonuses. There was even shooting in the presidential palace. The president had to flee to his homeland in Ziniare, appointed a new prime minister four days later and came to terms with his elite troops. In many places there were new mutinies and looting by the police and the military. The Palace of Justice was attacked. After all, there was no concession from the President. He sent his elite soldiers to Bobo Dioulasso to bloodily put down a mutiny.

In the second half of 2011 the situation calmed down. Unrest of this magnitude, involving bonuses and material goods, had never occurred in Burkina Faso before. The fact that the Palace of Justice in Fada N’Gourma was shelled and captured military officers were arbitrarily liberated in Ouagadougou, exposed the country’s institutional instability and its internal explosiveness.

In response to the unrest and mutinies, Blaise Compaoré appointed himself Secretary of Defense as part of the cabinet reshuffle and initiated an unprecedented restructuring of the army. The long-time president of the human rights organization MBDHP Halidou Ouedraogo criticized the fact that the Burkinabe military is not a republican army, but in the service of an individual and his clan (Jeune Afrique N ° 2668/2012 page 68).

The President took other measures: in addition to announcing talks with union representatives and tax cuts, which were taken by the government, he set up a “Conseil consultatif sur les reformes politiques (CCRP)” to draw up a list of the most necessary reforms. 21 amendments to the constitution and law were submitted to parliament for the March 7, 2012 session. Neither an amendment to Art. 37, which restricts the President’s mandate, nor fundamental changes to the balance of power were included in the list.

1998: Murder of the journalist Norbert Zongo

After letting in the early years of the reign Compaoré to numerous cases of torture, murder and disappearance (eg the student leader Dabo Boukary) had come, the murder of investigative journalist expanded Norbert Zongo on 12.13.1998 at a political thriller from the power of the of the President temporarily shaken.

According to computerannals, Norbert Zongo was the founder and editor of the independent weekly newspaper L’Indépendant and had already uncovered serious cases of white-collar crime in the course of privatizations. In 1998 he researched the background to the torture and murder of soldier and chauffeur David Ouédraogo. This became unbearable for the President, as the motive for this crime was apparently linked to a delicate assignment from the President’s brother François Compaoré to David Ouédraogo, which under no circumstances could be made known. Norbert Zongo’s mother (video) was offered large sums of money to dissuade her son from his life-threatening research.

Under the slogan “trop ​​c´est trop” (= “enough of the political murders”) the country was held in suspense by strikes and demonstrations for more than two years. The university’s academic year 1999-2000 has been canceled. The government responded to the demonstrators with beating and tear gas and the opposition politicians, who had formed “Group 14” or the “Collectif” (collective against impunity), with arrest. Blaise Compaoré also recognized the limits of his arbitrary rule and understood that – in order to survive this crisis – he had to react “tame” to the new circumstances.

The president convened a council consisting of the surviving former presidents and religious and traditional leaders. This “College of Wise Men” has investigated political murders since 1960 and formulated 7 points to which the head of state committed himself. One point was the celebration of a day of national reconciliation (“Journée Nationale de Pardon”), which was celebrated with great propaganda effort on March 30, 2001. Instead of going to the relatives of Norbert Zongo, the President asked in the largest stadium in Ouagadougou, generally and without obligation, for “pardon”. The opposition spoke of a “self-absolution” in which Norbert Zongo’s widow refused to participate. Nevertheless, Compaoré succeeded Affaire Norbert Zongo “to emerge stronger. But the population had awakened from the sleep of political fatalism. Torture and murder to achieve domestic political goals subsided. The basic problem of the affair, namely impunity for state-covered crimes, changed almost nothing. The lawsuit against the only remaining suspect – one of whom died of a sudden brain disease immediately after the trial began – was overturned on July 19, 2006.

Burkina Faso Riots in Spring 2011