Why sustained protests in Burkina Faso haven't brought Egypt-style revolution
Fierce demonstrations have been raging for months throughout the landlocked West African nation, but civil society lacks the strength to bring about revolutionary change.
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
The Ministry of Education in Burkina Faso agreed to meet some demands of striking teachers this week after thousands of public high school students across the capital demonstrated, some violently, in support of their teachers. The student demonstrations are the latest in a series of disparate protests that have been wracking the country in a manner suggesting a sub-Saharan extension of the Arab Spring.Skip to next paragraph
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After meetings with student activists Tuesday, the ministry agreed to a salary increase for teachers if the students dispersed protests. The teachers had gone on strike last week, demanding higher salaries and smaller class sizes.
Even with the apparent resolution of the teachers' demands, other fierce demonstrations have been raging for months throughout the nation. Protesters are attempting to call attention to issues ranging from the salaries and benefits of soldiers, the living and working conditions of university students, and democracy in the small West African country that has been ruled by President Blaise Compaoré for the past 24 years. Some scholars say this is a signal that the revolutionary sentiments of the Arab Spring in the Middle East are spreading south.
Not a sub-Saharan Spring
“The root causes are the same,” says Mr. Karim, referring to rising food prices and the authoritarian nature of Mr. Compaoré’s government that has largely controlled the military, public administration, traditional rules, and the business community during its rule. “It is the kind of regime that you have in the Maghreb that is authoritarian, a façade democracy, and that is why you have all of these people demonstrating, soldiers and students, everybody is complaining about the system.”
But he says that the opposition parties lack the strength to foster revolution, as they only hold a few seats in the National Assembly and organized a demonstration last month that was attended by only a few hundred people. He points out that while there was a desire for democracy and social change in Burkina Faso, citizens had little faith in the nation’s leaders.