Compaore’s resignation (actually it’s his ouster, for he didn’t go willingly) was a momentous event that probably caught the Burkinabes by surprise. It probably also caught France, which has actively steered the politics of its former colonies for its own interests, napping. One day Handsome Blaise, as France24 (which tried to pass the much reviled leader off as a peacemaker) reports Compaore is called in the streets of Ouagadougou, was angling to become the latest in Africa’s long line of ‘life’ presidents and the next he was out, and not on his own terms.
As with most sudden change of governments, there is great uncertainty as to who will lead Burkina Faso in the interim, but it is clear that that leader will come from the army, Compaore’s former constituency. General Honore Traore, seen by many as Compaore’s henchman, initially claimed the reins of governance, but Col Yacouba Isaac Zida, head of the Presidential Guard, challenged him and, with the backing of younger officers, prevailed. Zida appears to be more acceptable to the people who don’t want any Compaore crony running the show. He will now lead a transitional government and speaks of the will of the people and the people’s mandate.
“This is not a coup d’etat but a popular uprising,” Zida, according to Reuters, said in the studio of BF1 television. “I salute the memory of the martyrs of this uprising and bow to the sacrifices made by our people.”
Great way to start, speech wise, but many would argue that we have been that road before and that his actions in the next months would better express his convictions.
Why they hate Compaore
In a world where villains come a dime a dozen, Blaise Compaore ranks way up there in the minds of many Africans. His eternal notoriety was signed and sealed the day he led the coup that resulted in the demise of Thomas Sankara, his avowed ‘best friend’, and a man many in Africa still see as one of the greatest leaders the continent had seen.
While the killing of Sankara may haunt him, it is clear that Burkinabes’ major gripe with the now ex-president was his inability to deliver meaningful developments after 27 years in power and his move to perpetuate himself on the driving seat despite that.
Though the question of who replaces him initially caste a gloomy shadow, Burkinabes were delirious in their celebrations as a crestfallen Blaise attempted to bow out with as much dignity as he could muster. He called for a 90-day transition period that will lead to “free and transparent” elections, something many of his compatriots would argue he never delivered.
Beloved by the West, Blaise Compaore was 36-years-old when he became president of Burkina Faso. Linked to Charles Taylor, Gaddafi and Fodu Sanko, Western leaders who had courted Compaore, especially in the fight against Islamist militants in Mali, may rue his exit. France, however, has already accepted his resignation and that may mean that others will follow suit. Expect articles digging into his affair with civil wars in Africa, but don’t expect much on how much of his hand was controlled by outside forces or the uncanny control France has over the leadership of much of her former colonies.
Blaise Compaore’s long tenure may best be remembered for the swift dismantling of the projects that stood his predecessor out from most of the leaders that had graced African states since the end of colonialism.
Last seen leaving town in a heavily armed convoy, the ex-president’s is now in Ivory Coast. Several of his close allies and family members are reported to have fled with him.