Burkina Faso Citizens Reclaim Their Democracy


Richard Joseph and Rachel Beatty Riedl

On October 31, Blaise Compoaré, president of Burkina Faso, was forced to resign after days of mass protest. He had been in power for 27 years and was seeking to change the constitution to run again. But the Burkinabe people said Enough! They wanted change – they took to the street, torched the parliament, and brought an end to Campaoré’s rule. Soon thereafter, the country’s military settled on Lt. Colonel Isaac Zida to lead an interim government. But this action sparked further protests and insistent demands that the military yield power to a civilian transitional government. AfricaPlus presents commentaries based on a radio interview with Richard Joseph and an op-ed by Rachel Beatty Riedl. They both situate the Burkina Faso upheavals in the context of struggles to “claim democracy” in Africa.[1]

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“The Power is in the Street”: The Context of State Failure in Mali

By Bruce Whitehouse

In his essay on Mali, Bruce Whitehouse of Lehigh University shows how failures of elected leaders, state institutions, and external donors can shift power to the streets and an uncertain contest among armed forces.

A billboard created by a Bamako artists’ collective, 2012

A few short years ago, Mali was widely regarded as a paragon of democratic institution building in Africa. Today the global news media portray it as just another African war zone. How did it all go wrong?

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