Unsung Hero: Popular Resistance Key to Defeating Burkina Faso Coup

Unsung Hero: Popular Resistance Key to Defeating Burkina Faso Coup
Burkina Faso's transitional president Michel Kafando attends the official handover ceremony returning him to office, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Sept. 23, 2015 (AP photo).

Exactly a week after he was taken hostage by soldiers from Burkina Faso’s elite presidential guard during a short-lived coup led by Gen. Gilbert Diendere and other loyalists of former President Blaise Compaore, transitional President Michel Kafando officially returned to office on Sept. 23. He thanked international mediators from neighboring West African states, the African Union and the United Nations for helping to isolate the coup with their condemnations and threats of sanctions, and praised the loyalty of the regular armed forces.

Kafando also highlighted a key factor that received only limited media attention during the week-long crisis: the “national clamor” against the coup by Burkina Faso’s youth, civil society groups and others—an opposition expressed in daily demonstrations and a 10-day general strike led by trade unions. Alluding to earlier mass demonstrations that helped topple Compaore’s autocratic government a year ago, Kafando observed that the people’s resistance to the recent takeover attempt “demonstrates that the heightened consciousness that guided the insurrection has not diminished, to the contrary.”

It was that insurrection at the end of October 2014 that prompted Compaore to flee to Cote d’Ivoire and brought in Kafando’s transitional administration. The new government’s main task was to organize new democratic elections, but it also promised other basic reforms. On the latter, its performance was mixed, reflecting both impossibly high expectations and its own nature as an uneasy amalgam of career bureaucrats, military officers, professionals and civil society activists.

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.