Blaise Compaoré

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Blaise Compaoré
Blaise Compaoré.jpeg
President of Burkina Faso
Incumbent
Assumed office
15 October 1987
Prime Minister Youssouf Ouédraogo
Roch Marc Christian Kaboré
Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo
Paramanga Ernest Yonli
Tertius Zongo
Luc-Adolphe Tiao
Preceded by Thomas Sankara
Personal details
Born (1951-02-03) 3 February 1951 (age 63)
Ziniaré, Upper Volta
(now Burkina Faso)[1]
Political party Congress for Democracy and Progress
Spouse(s) Chantal de Fougères
Religion Roman Catholicism

Blaise Compaoré (born February 3, 1951)[2][3] is a Burkinabé politician who has been the President of Burkina Faso since 1987. He was a top associate of President Thomas Sankara during the 1980s, and in October 1987 he led a coup d'état that killed Sankara; subsequently he introduced a policy of "rectification", overturning the Marxist policies pursued by Sankara. He won elections in 1991, 1998, 2005, and 2010.

Early career[edit]

Compaoré was born in Ziniaré, 43 km from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso (then named Upper Volta). He reached the rank of Captain in the Voltaïc army. Compaoré met Thomas Sankara in 1976 in a military training center in Morocco, and subsequently Compaoré and Sankara were considered close friends. Compaoré played a major role in the coups d'état against Saye Zerbo and Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo. He has been married to Chantal Compaoré (née Chantal Terrasson) since 1985.

Under Sankara's leadership, which lasted from 1983 to 1987, Compaoré was his deputy[4] and was a member of the National Revolutionary Council.[2] He served as Minister of State at the Presidency[2][3][4] and subsequently as Minister of State for Justice.[3]

Politics[edit]

He is the founder of the ruling political party, the Congress for Democracy and Progress. He took power in a 1987 coup in which he killed his predecessor Thomas Sankara. He was elected President in 1991, in an election that was boycotted by the opposition, and re-elected in 1998, 2005 and 2010.[5]

1983 coup[edit]

A coup d'état organised by Blaise Compaoré deposed Major Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo on 4 August 1983,[6] at the age of 33. The coup d'état was supported by Libya which was, at the time, on the verge of war with France in Chad[7] (see History of Chad). Other key participants in the coup were Captain Henri Zongo, Major Jean-Baptiste Boukary Lingani and the charismatic Captain Thomas Sankara—who was pronounced President.

1987 coup[edit]

He took power on 15 October 1987 in a coup that murdered Thomas Sankara, his predecessor as head of state.[8] Compaoré described the killing of Sankara as an "accident", but the circumstances have never been properly investigated.[9] Upon taking the presidency, he reverted many of the policies of Sankara, claiming that his policy was a "rectification" of the Burkinabé revolution.

Initially ruling in a triumvirate with Henri Zongo and Jean-Baptiste Boukary Lingani, in September 1989 these two were arrested, charged with plotting to overthrow the government, summarily tried, and executed.[10]

1991 and 1998 elections[edit]

Compaoré was elected president in 1991 in an election boycotted by the main opposition parties in protest at the questionable means Compaoré had used to take office in the first place; only 25% of the electorate voted. In 1998 he was re-elected for the first time. In August 2005, he announced his intention to contest the next presidential election. Opposition politicians regarded this as unconstitutional due to a constitutional amendment in 2000 limiting a president to two terms, and reducing term lengths from seven to five years. Compaoré's supporters disputed this, saying that the amendment could not be applied retroactively,[11] and in October 2005 the constitutional council ruled that because Compaoré was a sitting president in 2000, the amendment would not apply until the end of his second term in office, thereby allowing him to present his candidacy for the 2005 election.

2005 election[edit]

Palais Kossyam, since 2005 the president's official residence

On November 13, 2005, Compaoré was re-elected as President, defeating 12 opponents and winning 80.35% of the vote. Although 16 opposition parties announced a coalition to unseat Compaoré early on in the race, ultimately nobody wanted to give up their spot in the race to another leader in the coalition, and the pact fell through.

Following Compaoré's victory, he was sworn in for another term on December 20, 2005.[12]

2011 protests[edit]

On 14 April 2011, Compaoré was reported to have fled from the capital Ouagadougou to his hometown of Ziniare after mutineering military bodyguards began a revolt in their barracks reportedly over unpaid allowances.[13] Their actions eventually spread to the presidential compound and other army bases.[13] In the night gunfire was reported at the presidential compound and an ambulance was seen leaving the compound. Soldiers also looted shops in the city through the night.[14]

Sierra Leone Civil War[edit]

Compaoré introduced Charles Taylor to his friend Muammar Gaddafi. Compaoré also helped Taylor[clarification needed] in the early 1990s.[15][16]

International and regional roles[edit]

Delegates of Ansar Dine and the MNLA in Ouagadougou, with Blaise Compaoré (November 16, 2012)

In 1993, President Compaoré headed the Burkina-Faso delegation which participated in the first Tokyo International Conference on African Development.[17]

Compaoré has been active as a mediator in regional issues. On July 26, 2006, he was designated as the mediator of the Inter-Togolese Dialogue, which was held in Ouagadougou in August 2006[18] and resulted in an agreement between the government and opposition parties.[19] He has also acted as mediator in the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, brokering the peace agreement that was signed by Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and New Forces leader Guillaume Soro in Ouagadougou on March 4, 2007.[20] In March 2012, he acted as a mediator in talks between representatives of the Malian coup d'état and other regional leaders.[21]

He is an Honorary Member of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation[22] and was on the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats (IMPACT) International Advisory Board.[23]

Political views[edit]

In an interview with the magazine Famille Chrétienne, President Compaoré asserted that the notion of sexual abstinence was not a monopoly of the Roman Catholic Church and that European NGOs who disagreed with traditional morality were profiting from the situation in order to intervene in regional African affairs.[24]

Amendment of Presidential Term Limits (Article 37)[edit]

President Compaoré has been in power for more than two decades; After his first two terms, he modified the constitution to reduce the duration of presidential term from 7 to 5 years and apply term limits. This would mean that President Compaoré is in his last term (until the end of 2015). In June 2014 Compaoré's ruling party called on him to organise a referendum that would allow him to alter the constitution in order to seek re-election in 2015.[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Apathetic voters likely to hand Compaore landslide victory ", france24.com
  2. ^ a b c Profiles of People in Power: The World's Government Leaders (2003), page 76–77.
  3. ^ a b c "Biographie du président", website of the Presidency (French).
  4. ^ a b "AROUND THE WORLD; New Cabinet Named In Bourkina Fasso", The New York Times, September 2, 1984.
  5. ^ "Burkina Faso president re-elected by landslide", BLNZ. November 25, 2010
  6. ^ The date may have been chosen for a symbolic purpose as the 194th anniversary of the Abolition of Feudal Privileges in France, but there is no evidence.
  7. ^ Chad was at war with Libya. France was providing air support to Chad. According to some witnesses some French troops were involved in ground operations.
  8. ^ "The day you find out Blaise is preparing a putsch against me, don't bother trying to counter him or even warning me. It will already be too late...", Christophe Châtelot, Guardian Weekly, Tuesday 30 November 2010
  9. ^ "United Nations Human Rights Website - Treaty Bodies Database - Document - Jurisprudence - Burkina Faso". Unhchr.ch. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  10. ^ "Burkina Faso (Upper Volta): Independence to the Present", Encyclopedia of African History
  11. ^ "BURKINA FASO: Compaore's decision to bid for re-election raises opposition hackles", IRIN, August 11, 2005.
  12. ^ "Mme Brigitte Girardin a représenté la France à la cérémonie d’investiture de M. Blaise Compaoré (Ouagadougou, 20 décembre 2005)", French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (French).
  13. ^ a b "Burkino Faso soldiers mutiny over pay". BBC World Service. 15 April 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  14. ^ "Burkina Faso President Dismisses Cabinet as Soldiers Loot in Ouagadougou". Bloomberg. 16 April 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  15. ^ Liberia's civil war: Nigeria, ECOMOG, and regional security in West Africa. Adekeye Adebajo p. 55
  16. ^ A dirty war in West Africa: the RUF and the destruction of Sierra Leone, Volume 2005, Part 2. Lansana Gberie p. 53
  17. ^ Japan, Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MOFA): 28 African nations
  18. ^ "Inter-Togolese dialogue resumes in Ouagadougou", republicoftogo.com (nl.newsbank.com), August 9, 2006.
  19. ^ "TOGO: Political agreement aims to end 12-year feud ", IRIN, August 21, 2006.
  20. ^ "COTE D'IVOIRE: New peace agreement", IRIN, March 5, 2007.
  21. ^ "Mali Tuareg rebels seize key garrison town of Gao". BBC News. 31 March 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  22. ^ raoulwallenberg.net
  23. ^ "International Advisory Board | About Us - IMPACT". Impact-alliance.org. 1963-10-03. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  24. ^ "Famille Chrétienne". Famillechretienne.fr. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  25. ^ Burkina Faso ruling party calls for referendum on term limits, Africa, Sunday 22 June 2014 - 2:38pm, ENCA, http://www.enca.com/burkina-faso-ruling-party-calls-referendum-term-limits

Further reading[edit]

  • Guion, Jean R. (1991). Blaise Compaoré: Realism and Integrity: Portrait of the Man Behind Rectification in Burkina Faso. Paris: Berger-Levrault International. ISBN 2701310008. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Sankara
President of Burkina Faso
1987–present
Incumbent
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Dawda Jawara
Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States
1990–1991
Succeeded by
Dawda Jawara
Preceded by
Robert Mugabe
Chairperson of the African Union
1998–1999
Succeeded by
Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Preceded by
Mamadou Tandja
Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States
2007–2008
Succeeded by
Umaru Yar'Adua