Inside Story

Burkina Faso: Uprising or military coup?

Colonel backed by army officials to lead transition period after long-serving president bowed to pressure to stand down.

A lieutenant colonel in Burkina Faso’s presidential guard has declared himself the new head of state.

A statement released on Saturday by top military officials said: “Lieutenant Colonel Yacouba Isaac Zida has been elected unanimously to lead the transition period opened after the departure of president Blaise Compaore.”

Compaore resigned on Friday after protests over his attempts to amend the constitution and extend his 27 years in power.

There had been growing unrest over a lack of political reforms and progress in a country rich in gold reserves but ranked one of the poorest in the world.

Zida assumed responsibility as head of state on Saturday, adding: “I call on the international community, in particular countries that are friends and allies of Burkina Faso, notably in the African Union and ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), to demonstrate their understanding and support our people in this difficult time.”

Burkina Faso has been an influential voice in the region, helping to mediate conflicts and disputes among its neighbours, and is also seen as a strategic ally to the US and France.

The latest events are now fueling debate about whether there will be broader consequences for the region and if this will ignite a so-called West African Spring?

Presenter: Mike Hanna


Mathieu Hilgers – author on Burkina Faso and Professor at the University of Brussels.

Imad Mesdoua – analyst for Africa Matters.

Marie Rodet – Lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.