Following the military takeover in Burkina Faso, international bodies threatened to sanction the country if the military refused to hand over power to an interim civilian leader. Michel Kafando, a former foreign affairs minister and U.N. ambassador for Burkina Faso, will lead the country as interim president until elections are held in November 2015. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Burkina Faso’s Michel Kafando.
Sources: BellaNaija.com, DW.de, Reuters.com, BBC.com, News.Yahoo.com, NYTimes.com, Nation.co.ke, UK.News.Yahoo.com
In 1969, Kafando traveled to France to attend the University of Bordeaux, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He then went on to earn a diploma in political studies in Paris in 1972, and a Ph.D. in political science at the Sorbonne in 1990. He later received a diplomatic qualification from the European Centre of the Carnegie Endowment in Geneva.
Kafando served as foreign minister of Upper Volta – the former name of Burkina Faso – and was the only cabinet member to retain his position following the 1982 coup of President Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo, albeit for a brief time. During that time, he also served as a vice president of the general assembly, as well as the head of many delegations including the Organization of African Unity and the African Centre for Environmental Protection.
After Sankara came to power, Kafando went to Paris and earned his Ph.D. at Sorbonne. They were not close allies. It wasn’t until 1998 that Kafando was named ambassador of Burkina Faso to the U.N., a role he served until 2011. He was succeeded by Der Kogda.
The veteran diplomat had retired from politics and was splitting his time between his farm and consultancy work when President Blaise Compaoré resigned or was ousted. Compaoré served as president of Burkina Faso from 1987 until Oct. 31 2014. Shortly before being named interim leader, Kafando told AFP, “Sometimes it feels like I’ve never been as busy as since I’ve stopped working.”
Despite his retirement, Kafando had not silent about his opinions of the former dictator’s actions. Four days before Compaoré was driven from power, Kafando said, “Bring on a time when we are more demanding in our choice of men.” He has said that he does not want Burkina Faso to be known as “a banana republic,” and will ensure that power is exercised without “the least abuse, nor excess.”
Burkinabé military officer Lt. Col. Isaac Zida served briefly as Burkina Faso’s acting head
of state in November 2014. The military was threatened with international sanctions if it failed to turn over power to a civilian leader. Kafando was chosen by a special committee made up of Burkinabé political, religious, civil, traditional, and military leaders. Other candidates included journalist Cherif Sy, ex-minister and sociologist Josephine Ouedraogo, and two others. Before talks began, Archbishop Paul Ouédraogo of the Roman Catholic Chruch ruled himself out for consideration.
In his swearing-in ceremony, Kafando promised to “respect and defend the constitution, the transition charter and laws, and do everything to guarantee justice for all Burkinabé.” Following the swearing in, he spoke to a town hall meeting of approximately 400 Burkinabé and said, “Our country will never be a ‘banana republic.’ Our eyes are open and things will never be the same again. We will scrupulously respect the political order in this country.”
Source: DW.de, Reuters.com
As interim leader, Kafando is unable to run in the presidential elections scheduled for November 2015. In the meantime, he must select a prime minister who will in turn appoint members of the 25-member transitional government. The National Transitional Council, a civilian-led 90-seat parliament, will also be established.
Young people in Burkina Faso, considered instrumental in ousting President Compaoré, were not excited about Kafando’s appointment as interim leader. He was perceived as the military’s candidate. Many would have preferred Josephine Ouedraogo, a minister in Thomas Sankara’s cabinet during the post-independence period. She promoted revolutionary values in Burkina Faso before Compaoré came to power. Kafando is associated with the former regime. As a student said in the country’s capital, Ouagadougou, “This choice is a sign that the people’s revolution was stolen by the presidential security regiment.”
Source: BBC.com, News.Yahoo.com
Lt. Col. Isaac Zida, the army official who took over briefly as Burkina Faso’s acting president following Compaoré’s resignation, was named both prime minister and defense minister for the transitional period. In total, four military members were named to the 26-member cabinet, and will most likely control the interior ministry and security services. No opposition figures are among the members of the new interim cabinet. Zida will be barred from running in the 2015 elections, as will Kafando.