How the people ousted a leader who overstayed his welcome

Burkina Faso ousted a leader who overstayed his welcome. Should other West African leaders watch their backs?

The World Today Published 6 February 2015 Updated 2 February 2021 3 minute READ

Bram Posthumus

Associate Member, African Studies Centre, Leiden University

The government of Burkina Faso’s deposed president, Blaise Compaoré, was a cornerstone of French and US security policy in the northwest of Africa. For 27 years, he was the immovable guarantor of internal and external stability. Or so it seemed. But then, within 48 hours at the end of October 2014, he was gone.

A people’s revolt brought hundreds of thousands (some say up to a million) to the streets of the capital Ouagadougou and all other major towns and cities in the country, toppling a man who thought that he could lengthen his tenure by another five, ten or 15 years, through the simple but effective process that had worked so well before – by buying off politicians to steer a law through parliament. In this case, the law was intended to change Burkina Faso’s 1991 constitution, which puts a limit on the presidential mandate.

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