A Banker Balks: Kaboré’s Rise to Power as Burkina Faso’s President

A Banker Balks: Kaboré’s Rise to Power as Burkina Faso’s President

Newly-elected President Kaboré of Burkina Faso drew upon his long career in politics and background in banking to win the first free and fair elections in more than 25 years.

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Newly-elected President Kaboré of Burkina Faso drew upon his long career in politics and background in banking to win the first free and fair elections in more than 25 years.

President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso was perhaps born with banking and politics in his blood: Kabore’s father, Charles Bila Kaboré, was both a well-respected banker and a government minister under former President Maurice Yaméogo. After getting his masters degree from College de Sain Jean le Baptiste in 1980, now-President Kaboré began a career in banking with the International Bank of Burkina (BIB). After just 4 years, at the age of 27, Kaboré was promoted to the General Director of BIB where he stayed until he was appointed to the government as a minister for the Organization for Popular Democracy–Labour Movement (ODP/MT) in 1989.

Early Political Career with the Organization for Popular Democracy

Between 1989-and 1996, Kaboré served as Minister of Transports and Communications (21 September 1989-Feb 1992); Minister of State (16 February 1992-May 1992); Member of the Parliament Representing of the Kadiogo Region for the ODP/MT (now the CDP Party) (24 May 1992-June 1992); Minister of State for Finance and Plan (19 June 1992-3 September 1993); Minister of State (3 September-20 March 1994), and Prime Minister (20 March 1994-February 1996).

The Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) political party was formed in February of 1996. Kaboré resigned from his position as Prime Minister to become the Special Advisor to the President of Burkina Faso for the CDP for 18 months before being elected as a member of the National Assemble for the CDP. In 1999, Kaboré was elected as the National Secretary of the CDP where he remained until he was elected as the President of the National Assembly (2002), then elected President of the CDP Party (2003) before, in November of 2015, being elected to the President of Burkina Faso as a member of the new opposition party, the People’s Movement for Progress.

Ending A 27-Year Reign Through Free and Fair Elections

Burkina Faso is a parliamentary republic, and the executive branch is headed by a president who is elected for a maximum of two five-year terms. As is too often the case in former colonies, elections do not always occur with the transparency and frequency they should.

Kaboré’s election was a monumental moment for the people of Burkina Faso: longtime ruler Blaise Compaoré was ousted in a popular uprising the year before. The elections that selected Kaboré were the first free and fair elections in more than 20 years. In 2011, rumblings of socio-political unrest came to a head in sporadic violent protests. Burkina Faso is a landlocked country at the very bottom (183 out of 188) of the Human Development Index, and for years former-President Compaoré’s policies only worsened the endemic poverty rife across the country. When President Compaoré came to power in 1987, he ruled Burkina Faso with authoritarian policies. During his 27 year reign, however, he allowed progressive liberalisation (including the amendment of the constitution in 1991) and, ironically, it was these polices that lead to his ultimate downfall. As the media became more independent, lively political debate began to brew in the social sector, particularly among the 65% of the population under 25.

Dissatisfied with pervasive poverty and rampant unemployment, citizens took to the streets in 2011 when Compaoré attempted to amend the constitution to allow him to run for another term. The 2011 riots were quickly squashed, and elections were scheduled for 2014. A military uprising attempted to thwart the elections in a short-lived coup: it was after this failed coup that Kaboré was elected (with 53.5% of the vote) to be the new President of Burkina Faso. Before being elected President of Burkina Faso, Kaboré resigned from the CDP during the early 2014 unrest, and became the leader and founder of the People’s Movement for Progress. Kaboré ran for the country’s presidency on a platform of the consolidation of democracy and, as expected, encouraging development to lessen the burden of poverty in one of the world’s poorest nations.

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