After Attacks, Burkina Faso Walks Fine Line Between Security and Liberty

After Attacks, Burkina Faso Walks Fine Line Between Security and Liberty
A soldier outside the Splendid Hotel, which was attacked by extremists, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 18 , 2016 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso—In the wake of a deadly terrorist attack in Burkina Faso’s capital in January, followed by a raid on a military armory by dissident Burkinabe soldiers, the country’s newly elected government is ramping up security. President Roch Marc Christian Kabore promises to continue reinforcing democratic freedoms, but already some of his government’s reactions have been heavy-handed or inept, raising concerns about how liberties can be preserved in an atmosphere of uncertainty and tension.

In February, for example, the independent newspaper in Ouagadougou, L’Evenement, published an article on the armory attack, which was carried out by recalcitrant members of the former presidential guard loyal to ex-President Blaise Compaore, who was forced from office after massive protests in October 2014. The article included a map of former arms depots. The official media regulatory agency promptly suspended the newspaper’s publication for a month, claiming it violated military secrecy.

Many Burkinabe saw an overreaction. Lookman Sawadogo, president of the association of private newspaper editors, described the decision as “arbitrary.” There are no clear regulations outlining what constitutes a “military secret,” he explained to me. In any case, L’Evenement was never given a proper hearing before the suspension was issued.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.