Burkina Faso – Senate controversy prompts reassessment

Guest post by Sophia Moestrup

In response to the controversy surrounding the newly created Senate, President Blaise Compaoré on Monday ordered his government to assess the ‘process of operationalizing the Senate.’ He specifically requested that a report with ‘recommendations and suggestions’ be submitted to him by August 31, in the spirit of strengthening social cohesion and stability. Read the president’s full statement here.

The statement is being interpreted differently by observers. Some see it as a statesman’s call for dialogue with the opposition. Others as evidence of the president’s backpedalling following large-scale demonstrations by the opposition. And some as a tactical move to delay the process, waiting for heads to cool. The opposition claims the Senate will be costly, adds little to the functioning of democratic institutions, and that its primary purpose is to provide Compaoré with a tool for eliminating constitutional term-limits for the president. Compaoré’s term ends in 2015 and he is not eligible for another term, according to Article 37 in the constitution. The presidential camp, on the other hand, claims that the Senate will complete the country’s democratic architecture by strengthening decentralization through the representation of the regions, traditional and religious leaders and civil society.

The Senate controversy is an indication that the race for 2015 is already on.

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