Serious attack near the border with Mali with more than 100 dead

Two villages are attacked in Niger, killing more than 100 people. The interior minister speaks of jihadists to the attackers. French soldiers die again in neighboring Mali.

Gunmen killed more than 100 people in the terror-stricken West African country of Niger. Prime Minister Birgi Rafini announced on Sunday after visiting the two affected villages near the border with Mali. So far, no group has acknowledged the attack. According to the Nigerien interior minister Alkache Alhada, at least 20 people were injured in the attack. Alhada called the attackers jihadists. There are a number of terrorist groups active in Niger and other countries in this region that have sworn allegiance to Al Qaeda or the “Islamic State” (IS).

The attack happened on Saturday in the villages of Tchombangou and Zaroumdareye. The attack is believed to have been in retaliation for the murder of two fighters by villagers, the interior minister said. Young people from the two villages had tried to form a self-defense group in the contested area. The armed men are believed to have come from neighboring Mali on motorbikes. The Nigerien authorities are following them, said the interior minister.

Niger is one of the most important transit countries for African migrants who want to reach the EU via the Mediterranean. Together with Mali, Mauritania, Chad and Burkina Faso, Niger is part of the G5 Sahel group that wants to fight terrorist groups. The government has little control in the deserted expanses outside the cities, which is not only used by jihadist groups but also by criminal networks. In recent years, Europe had put pressure on the Nigerien government to curb people smuggling. Niger is also an important partner for the EU in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel region.

French soldiers died in Mali

In Niger, the preliminary results of the presidential and parliamentary elections were announced on the same day. Head of state Mahamadou Issoufou will, as provided for by the constitution, resign after his two terms in office. An ally of the outgoing president, former Foreign Minister Mohamed Bazoum, stood for the ruling party PNDS and received 39.6 percent of the vote. Like the strongest opposition candidate Mahamane Ousmane (16.9 percent), however, he did not achieve the necessary majority of votes, which is why a runoff election on February 22nd is necessary.

In another attack in neighboring Mali, two French soldiers were also killed on Saturday. A third was injured when an explosive device exploded under her vehicle, as announced by the Elysée Palace in Paris. The incident therefore occurred during a reconnaissance trip in the eastern Menaka region. On Monday, three French soldiers were killed in Mali when an improvised explosive device went off under their armored vehicle.


from Austria to Burkina Faso, end-of-year celebrations upset

How are the “Covid-19 version” end-of-year celebrations organized? As the pandemic continues to disrupt daily life around the world, the unfolding of traditional family and New Year celebrations is also troubled. From Burkina Faso to Lebanon, via Canada or Brazil, everyone is developing their own strategies to finally say “goodbye” to 2020.

In France, if one in two people plans to celebrate Christmas without their family, according to an OpinionWay survey for Proximis, outings and trips are exceptionally authorized the evening of December 24. Between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., everyone can find their loved ones, within the limit of six guests at the table. The New Year is canceled.

The pandemic, which has already caused nearly 1,700,000 deaths worldwide, for almost 77 million cases, is not sparing the end of the year holidays. And even for those who keep the family celebrating, traditions are turned upside down.

In Austria and France, Christmas escapes health measures

Nina, 26, lives in Paris for her studies. For the first time in her life, she will not celebrate Christmas with her whole family, but only with her parents and her brother. ” My grandmothers get used to the idea that we can’t all get together because of the Covid, she explains, but my uncle has a harder time living it. He lives in Reunion Island, and it’s the only time of the year that we all meet, usually. »

For many, the holidays are indeed the only opportunity to reunite the whole family. An even stronger reality in binational families, like that of Valentin. Franco-Italian, he will not join his maternal family in Sicily at the end of December. Italy decided Friday, December 18 to confine itself again and to restrict travel between regions. ” My mother is torn he laments. But my grandparents are 90 years oldIt wouldn’t be reasonable to fly, anyway. Valentine will therefore celebrate Christmas in a small group, with his parents and his sister.

In Austria, the same strategy: preserve Christmas at all costs, despite the rebound of the pandemic. The country will wait until December 26 to confine itself for the third time. Flora will therefore be able to reunite with her parents and sisters in Vienna. ” I come from a traditional family, she explains, relieved. Christmas is very important to all of us “. But not all the rituals will be there. ” Usually my mom sings in a church at Christmas time, and we’ll all listen to her, she explains. This year it will not be possible. In Vienna, churches remain open, but services have been suspended. Despite this, Flora will still be able to reunite with her family to celebrate Christmas almost as usual.

In London, ” many people will spend Christmas alone »

Others do not have this possibility. In Kyoto, Aran gave up visiting his grandparents as is the tradition for the New Year. In Japan, Christmas is more a feast for lovers, and on December 31 a family celebration. If he plans to go out with his friend on December 25, the family reunion is canceled this year, due to Covid-19. Buddhist and Shinto temples have announced that they will close their doors on the New Year, upsetting the most important holiday of the year in the country. They are usually visited during this period by millions of visitors.

In London, Anouk, a young Franco-British, gave up returning to France to find her family for the holidays, as she usually does. It is also impossible to leave London to join his paternal grandparents, who live in a region of England less affected by the coronavirus. Saturday 19 December, the announcement of a new confinement in London and in the south east of the country, due to the appearance of a new strain of the virus, upset its organization. “ I didn’t have time to buy my gifts, she worries. And I don’t know what I’m going to be able to find, the stores have closed. “She is waiting anyway for the result of her PCR test to decide to find her sister, also a Londoner, on December 25. But his case remains an exception: ” It was pretty dramatic when the news broke, explains the young woman. Many people are going to spend Christmas alone. »

I will party with my dogs this year

This is the case with Sean, at Toronto. The economic capital of Canada has been confined since November 23, until January 4, at least. ” Everything is canceled this year, he sums up. I am very sad, I was delighted to find relatives that I have not seen for a long time because of the health situation. “He will therefore stay at home on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Eve. An irony for the young man, used to organizing big parties during this period:” I will party with my dogs this year », he sighs.

The same goes for Ivy in Brazil. In this country particularly affected by the epidemic, many are those who have given up on the holidays. If Porto Alegre, the city where the young woman lives, has not adopted restrictive measures, the 31-year-old Brazilian believes that it would not be ” responsible »To visit his grandmother in Sao Paulo for the holidays. ” It hurts me, she confides, but I prefer to limit my movements, this new wave of the epidemic scares me. »

To console herself, she will probably send a gift by mail to her grandmother. But his biggest regret remains the New Year. ” Usually, in Brazil, on the evening of December 31, everyone dresses in white and ends up on the beach, she says with a little nostalgia. We eat lentils and we light candles … To celebrate this new year, she will have to be content with a one-to-one meal with her companion in their apartment, where they have been living confined since last March.

In Burkina Faso as in Lebanon, economic difficulties add to the health crisis

In other countries, economic difficulties are added to the health crisis. Simone, in Lebanon, will not celebrate Christmas with all of her family, a first. ” We have always brought together the three generations for the holidays, even during the war, says this pharmacist in the pharmacy. But this year, we will not do it, the grandparents will remain isolated. »

The main objective is to avoid contagion. The mother indeed doubts the capacity of hospital care in Beirut, and prefers to avoid any danger. But it is also the economic crisis crossed by the country which turns the party upside down: ” We have decided to only give one gift per child this year, to save, she explains. The meal will be less auspicious than usual. With the crisis, we no longer have the means to go to department stores. We will go shopping in discount stores, or on the internet. »

Financial difficulties are also felt in France, where 20% of parents say they do not not be able to offer gifts to their children this year, in an Ifop survey for the association Dons Solidaires.

In Burkina Faso too, the end of year celebrations will be for the economy. Dimitri, a Christian from Ouagadougou, sums up, fatalist: “ The coronavirus does not change much. The health crisis has certainly stopped many activities, but we never have money for the holidays anyway. He is still looking forward to spending time with his family. ” You have to manage to welcome everyone, he concludes. The important thing is to remember that family comes before everything else. And invite friends ! »

Even in the most spared countries, half-hearted celebrations

The whole world seems to be preparing for the forced end of year celebrations. Helena lives in Auckland, New Zealand. The country is one of the best students in the face of Covid-19: after a second confinement, the latest restrictions have been lifted at the beginning of October. Only the borders remain closed, with a compulsory fortnight.

In New Zealand, it is common to eat pavlova for Christmas.  This cake, made of meringue, fresh fruit and whipped cream, is said to have been named in honor of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who was touring the country in the 1920s.
In New Zealand, it is common to eat pavlova for Christmas. This cake, made of meringue, fresh fruit and whipped cream, is said to have been named in honor of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who was touring the country in the 1920s. Getty Images – Iliana Mestari

Helena’s family was thus able to prepare the holidays in a ” almost normal ». « We all go together to an island near Auckland, she rejoices. I think we will be even happier than usual to be reunited with our loved ones after this difficult year. »

But despite these favorable conditions, the young New Zealander is still wary of the virus, which is still present. She will therefore not join her friends at the festivals organized around Auckland for the New Year. ” They bring together 30,000 people on average, I don’t find that reasonable, she regrets. Even if the fireworks are particularly beautiful … »

No matter where we are, the end of year celebrations will be upset, just like this long year. In any case, everyone wants 2021 to be ” better than 2020 “. The only sure thing, for now, is that it is finally ending.

► To read also: Sweden: watching Donald Duck with family on television, a real Christmas tradition


Art under Pressure in Africa: Between Corona and Terrorism

Burkina Faso is considered the center of the West African theater landscape. Because of Corona, the only permanent theater is fighting for every production.

Reality on stage Photo: zvg

This year’s theater season has ended two weeks earlier than planned. Actually the ensemble of the theater CITO (Carrefour International de Théâtre Ouagaoudou) should have been on stage eight more times. But Martin Zongo has to pull the rip cord. “We don’t have any more money,” says the manager two days after the last performance on November 21st. All over Ouagadougou the posters that referred to the play “La Patrie ou la Mort” (Fatherland or Death) were hastily removed.

The open-air theater, which is located in the center of the capital of Burkina Faso directly opposite the Issoufou Joseph Conombo football stadium, has 250 seats. Regular admission costs the equivalent of just under 2.30 euros. Long queues had formed in front of the entrance before the last performances.

Sometimes entire groups of students come here who are studying theater or literature. After the performances, you will have the opportunity to talk to those responsible and ask questions about the play, the technology and the set. The CITO is also a well-known cultural institution with a loyal audience.

But the corona pandemic is troubling the theater. Burkina Faso only had 3,156 cases up to the beginning of December, and the virus had less of an impact on everyday life than feared. But there is no international money.

No more money there

“It wasn’t until mid-November that we were able to settle all the bills for the first production, which was last performed at the end of June,” says Zongo. The funds for this came from a Spanish partner, Culture at Work Africa. Now there is no more money to pay, for example, the transport costs for additional samples of the current piece. Depending on the size of the ensemble, the effort involved and the playing time, the costs are between the equivalent of 22,900 and a good 41,000 euros.

“La Patrie ou la Mort” is the 48th production of the theater, which was founded in 1996. At that time, young actors * who had gained experience on European stages and wanted to bring them back to the Sahel country got together. From 2002 to 2006 the Norwegian National Theater in Oslo also supported the institution, which is organized as an association.

The actors were also influenced by theater makers such as Jean-Pierre Guingané, Prosper Kompaoré and Achille Amadou Bourou, who launched various festivals and shaped modern theater in Burkina Faso. In the whole of West Africa it is the only permanent theater that shows up to four productions a year – enough money is enough – performs them for weeks and goes on tour. It also claims to employ actors for at least two to three months.

That’s the exception. Although Burkina Faso is considered the center of West African theater, there is a theater school and regular workshops for aspiring actors *, many sometimes find no production for a whole year and have to take odd jobs in order to even have an income. Even those who have been cast for a role by the CITO have no right to be on stage again next time. “It’s a life in the precarious,” says Martin Zongo.

Haoua Sangaré chose this life nonetheless. “The whole of life is a theater,” says the choreographer and actress. After the performance of “La Patrie ou le Mort”, she sat in the first row of the audience and looked at the now dark stage. This time, the set has to get by with a black curtain and only a few props, also a cost-saving measure.

Haoua Sangaré plays a woman in the production who, together with her husband and other villagers, accuses two internally displaced persons – Burkina Faso has now displaced more than a million people due to terrorist attacks and raids – of being terrorists. Against the black background and sparse lighting, the actress has an enormous presence.

She knew early on that she wanted to have a career on and off the stage. “It was already clear to me at school that I didn’t want to sit in an office.” I trained as a choreographer and actress. Today Haoua Sangaré works with various theater groups and always on new productions. Her own company, Compagnie Artistique Bisanwe, which she founded with two colleagues, would do well, she says. It is an exception.

The playwright and actor Mahamadou Tindano wrote the current piece “La Patrie ou la Mort” as a commissioned work for the CITO. He remembers well that the theater, art in general, was long considered a profession without a future or perspective. “An attitude that football also had to struggle with. Today parents even pay for attending a football school. ”The business for actors is by no means that well regarded or even lucrative. Nevertheless, a rethink would begin. “Parents accept their children’s career aspirations, but demand that they finish school anyway.”

Unsafe Sahel zone

The topicality of the pieces can also contribute to this. Until 2015, Burkina Faso was considered a stable state in the increasingly insecure Sahel zone, which is probably due to deals between the former long-term ruler Blaise Compaoré and suspected terrorists. Since Compaoré is no longer in power, the agreements no longer apply and various groups have spread from Mali to Burkina Faso.

“Just like the coronavirus, this issue is present everywhere when you go north. You can’t avoid her at all, ”says Tindano. “As artists, we have a responsibility to react to it”.

The first piece of the year, a joint production with various cultural institutions, was about young people who let themselves be recruited by terrorists. The second piece also reflects the constant discussion: insecurity, massive violence and, above all, the general distrust of others.

In the capital Ouagadougou, despite various attacks, this is not yet as noticeable as in the north, for example. It is all the more important for the author to confront the audience with this topic. At the same time, panic should not be caused, says managing director Martin Zongo.

An internally displaced person

Tony Ouedraogo plays an internally displaced person who dies a stage death and returns as a ghost. He is made up in white for his last appearance. He, too, considers it absolutely necessary to bring political and social issues onto the stage that are themselves affected by the massive violence.

Tours are hardly possible anymore. “We would like to perform in the north. But the journey there is too dangerous, ”he says. Even secured convoys have been attacked in the past few months. “Today you attack anyone who tries to bring about development.” But this is exactly what the CITO wants to contribute.


Presidential election in Burkina Faso: one favorite, two challengers

Between “300 and 350,000” people out of the 6.5 million voters, could not vote Sunday in Burkina Faso in areas affected by insecurity, said Sunday, November 22 in the evening the president of the Electoral Commission, Newton Ahmed Barry.

The vote count should take several days. The opponents have already announced that they would unite behind the one who came out on top for the second round, a scenario that has never happened in Burkina Faso.

► A catastrophic security record for the outgoing Roch Marc Christian Kaboré

Elected in 2015, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, 63, is the big favorite in this election. He represented himself before the Burkinabe voters, with a good chance of being re-elected. Its community base (from the majority Mossi people), and its consensual way of governing ensure it a comfortable advance over its other adversaries.

→ THE FACTS A peaceful presidential campaign in Burkina Faso

Economically, it can highlight some major achievements such as the Zagtouli solar power plant, inaugurated in 2017, and the Ouagadougou road interchange. We also owe the construction of 7,500 boreholes to facilitate the population’s access to water. And free maternal and child care.

On the security level, its record is catastrophic: more than a fifth of the territory is now beyond the control of Ouagadougou. Jihadist groups continue to expand their area of ​​influence in the country. The armed forces are not only unable to contain this contagion, but they are also regularly accused, along with the self-defense militias, of committing abuses against the populations they are supposed to protect. In the first place against the Fulani, accused or suspected of being the accomplices of the jihadists.

→ READ. Burkina Faso sinks into insecurity

If this security record is pocketed by his opponents, “It is also used by the outgoing president to explain the obstacles he encountered in enforcing all his policies. And it seems that this argument pays off ”, observes journalist Édouard Samboe, from

► Zéphirin Diabré, the opponent of 2015

Facing him, his opponent from 2015, Zéphirin Diabré. Several times ministers under Blaise Compaoré, former Africa director of the French nuclear group Areva and former deputy director general of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Zéphirin Diabaré is now 61 years old. A candidate for the Union for Progress and Change (UPC), he campaigned above all by attacking the government’s strategy in the face of the jihadist threat.

Zéphirin Diabré is in favor of a more diplomatic method. To his eyes, “The question of knowing if this fight against terrorism can be won only on the military level” is a real point of disagreement with Roc Marc Christian Kaboré, he explained on RFI. “I observe, for example, what is happening in Afghanistan with the Taliban, he added. I see that the Americans and their army, which is the most powerful in the world, with all the means at their disposal, have not succeeded in eradicating the phenomenon in twenty to thirty years of fighting. They returned to discussions with the parties involved. So the option of identifying among those who attack us, women, and men with whom we can enter into a dialogue, is an option that I do not rule out. “

Elected, he will appoint a government of national reconciliation “In which all the major components of our political life will be present”. However, his chances are limited insofar as he failed to unify the opposition during the five-year term of Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.

► Eddie Komboïgo, capitalize on the nostalgia of the Compaoré years

Another figure can disrupt the re-election of the outgoing president, Eddie Komboïgo, of the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), the party of former President Blaise Compaoré. Excluded from the 2015 election, the CDP is making a comeback in the Burkinabé political game. His herald, Eddie Komboïgo, is 56 years old and at the head of a fortune deemed colossal.

He was able to capitalize on the nostalgia that part of the electoral body may feel for the Compaoré years: Burkina Faso was then a stable country spared by jihadist groups. Eddie Komboïgo wants to embody national reconciliation and has clearly expressed himself in favor of the return of all political exiles, in the first place, of his mentor, Blaise Compaoré.


A peaceful presidential campaign in Burkina Faso

Two days before the first round of the Burkinabe presidential election, the finding is unanimous. « The campaign and the political debate, the general atmosphere of this presidential sequence are peaceful. The voters come to listen to the candidates, they no longer attack the supporters of other parties as before ”, describes Édouard Samboe, one of the journalists on the site covering this campaign.

“The debate focused on political questions and not on personal questions”

« We witnessed a campaign without excesses or effusions, without really personal attacks or instrumentalization of communities. The debate focused on political questions and not on people questions ”, adds Maré Dobi Parfait, the president of the student association of the University of Ouagadougou, Génération Joseph-Ki-Zerbo, and founder of the journal Kamite.

→ READ. In Guinea, the authoritarian drift of Alpha Condé

“It is certain that we are far, here, from the presidential campaign which has just taken place in Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea., also underlines the writer Adrien Absolu, who has just published The Missing of Joola (1). We are not on the eve of a reversal of the electoral landscape and the Burkinabe election fits well into the constitutional order ”, he observes from Ouagadougou, where he lives.

→ THE FACTS. Ivory Coast, an election marred by violence

A finding that may surprise in a country faced with such a serious security situation. Attacked in the North, the Center and the East by the main jihadist groups in the Sahel, all of Burkina Faso is in the red zone for the Quai d’Orsay, with the exception of the capital. A deterioration in security which will prevent the presidential election from being held in about 20% of the territory, recognizes the Constitutional Council.

Over a million displaced people

To this must be added the number of people displaced by the conflict: more than a million people. There is not a day without an attack, a raid or an operation against civilians or the military. The last major ambush, on November 11, carried out by the Islamic State (IS) organization against a military patrol on the Tin Akoff-Beldiabé axis (Oudalan province in the North), left 14 people dead among the soldiers and caused great emotion in the country.

→ THE FACTS. In the Sahel, the fastest humanitarian deterioration on the planet

Yet even in areas directly threatened by armed groups, the presidential campaign is seen as peaceful. As witnessed by Father Roger Bamogo, parish priest of Saint-Joseph de Barsalogho. The cross had met him in Kaya, where he had taken refuge in December 2019 to escape jihadist attacks. The Abbot returned to Barsalogho at the end of September.

→ READ. Barsalogho, on the front lines of community violence

« Indeed, the presidential campaign is different. Despite the hyperviolence in which we live, the presidential debate is about programs and not people, freedom of expression is evident. The “nothing will be the same again”, after the 2014 insurgency that overthrew Blaise Compaoré, is obvious. “

The outgoing president, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, hopes to win the election in the first round, «Un coup KO». « Otherwise he will be in difficulty since the other candidates have agreed to support the one who would be best placed ”, notes Édouard Samboe.

→ REPORT. Burkina Faso: Dori, ultimate refuge in the face of terror

Among the subjects of the campaign, the return of Blaise Compaoré. Since his fall in 2014, he has lived in exile in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), where Alassane Ouattara granted him Ivorian nationality. « Not only is his return supported by his own political party, but it is also accepted by the other candidates who all defend national reconciliation. », explains Maré Dobi Parfait.

On the other hand, the question of the discussion with terrorist groups is more discussed. The opposition is in favor. The outgoing president, no. « It’s a debate between us, notes Father Roger Bamogo, as in any democracy: it is really an achievement of the insurrection. »


The Burkinabe presidential election

13 candidates are in the running for the first round on November 22.

The outgoing president, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, is favorite.

Two opposition candidates can hope to win: opposition leader Zéphirin Diabré, who came second in the poll in 2015, and former President Blaise Compaoré’s party candidate, Eddie Komboïgo.

Due to the insecurity linked to jihadist groups, nearly 1,500 villages (out of more than 8,000) will not vote on Sunday, neither in the presidential election, nor in the legislative elections, which take place on the same day.

Jihadist abuses, ever more numerous and often intertwined with inter-communal conflicts, have left more than 1,200 dead (mostly civilians) and a million displaced since 2015.


Burkina Faso before the election: voting in times of terror

The opposition in Burkina Faso wants to negotiate with Islamist terrorist groups, but President Kaboré is against it. The security situation remains tense.

Opposition election campaign: “Together we will save the fatherland!” Photo: Katrin Gänsler

OUAGADOUGOU taz | All of a sudden, election fever rises in the center of Ouagadougou. Around 20 supporters of Zéphirin Diabré and his Union for Progress and Change (UPC) meander through the narrow streets of the huge market district.

They are on foot and on yellow bicycles and hold up posters with the party emblem, a lion’s head against a blue background. You hope that the 61-year-old Diabré will be the main opposition candidate in the presidential election next Sunday in the runoff election against incumbent Roch Marc Christian Kaboré from the People’s Movement for Progress (MPP). Parliament is also re-elected.

According to a survey, 63-year-old Kaboré was 42 to 43 percent in October, far from an absolute majority in the first ballot. Five years ago, Kaboré defeated Diabré with 53.5 to 30 percent – in Burkina Faso’s first free election since the popular uprising that had put an end to the regime of long-term president Blaise Compaoré a year earlier.

At that time there was hope and optimism. Today there is disillusionment. The change of power has brought neither more work for the young generation nor a sustainable economic upturn.

State of emergency in many provinces

Instead, Burkina Faso has become the “red zone” in the fight against Islamist terrorist groups, among which armed bandits have long since mixed. The state of emergency applies in 14 out of 45 provinces. The non-governmental organization ACLED has counted 2,730 dead in the past twelve months as a result of attacks, riots and violence against civilians. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 1,049,767 people are on the run in Burkina Faso, out of a population of 21 million. It is already clear that more than 1,330 of the almost 22,000 polling stations will not open on Sunday for security reasons.

Eddie Komboïgo speaks bluntly of war. The 56-year-old businessman, who studied financial accounting and taught at the University of Ouagadougou, is sitting on his light gray leather sofa in his villa in the Zone de Bois district. A young man carries large suitcases into the house. Komboïgo has just returned from his campaign tour, in Gourcy and Ouahigouya, hundreds of kilometers by car. Now, when he returns, numerous people are waiting for him and want something. He puts a group of young people off for the next day.

In Burkina Faso, the fighters are not recruits from outside. You are part of the population

Komboïgo mixes up the choice. He leads Compaoré’s party Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), which practically exercised sole rule for decades. In 2015, after Compaoré’s fall, she did not nominate a candidate. Now she wants to return to power with Komboïgo. His chances are good, he thinks, if President Kaboré had a “catastrophic record”.

The dominant issue in the election campaign is the security situation. Komboïgo accuses the incumbent of having made no effort in the past five years to find out who is attacking the country and why.

He advocates a dialogue with the terrorist groups: “How else can hostages be freed? But not through armed force. ”In fact, in March and October, after negotiations with Islamist groups, several hostages were released in Mali, some of whom had been kidnapped in Burkina Faso. When asked what should be negotiated, he reacts angrily: “You first have to know what they are asking for.”

Local fighters with hardly any prospects

Talks with the Islamist underground: That is the key question in the election campaign. Diabré also recently emphasized that gun violence alone has never successfully combated terrorism. In his view, a dialogue is inevitable.

In Burkina Faso, the fighters are not recruits from North Africa or the Middle East, but locals or at most Malians. They are part of the population in a region that has hardly any prospects to offer and is also severely affected by climate change and the associated deterioration in living conditions.

President Kaboré has said several times that there will be no deals under him. To position yourself differently now would be an admission of the wrong strategy. In conversations in Ouagadougou it is always clear that peace and security are more important to many people than rigid positions. In any case, consensus solutions play an important role in Burkina Faso’s political culture.

Ex-President Compaoré always held talks on Islamist terrorist groups and is said to have concluded several agreements with them. Under him, Burkina Faso was still considered stable when neighboring Mali had long since overturned in 2012. The attacks only increased massively from the end of 2015.

Regarding the question of how Compaoré dealt with the Islamists, Komboïgo waves it aside: “Nothing was signed.” Only before the 2013 elections in Mali was there an agreement with Tuareg groups. But Compaoré managed to bring about peace in Burkina Faso, stressed his successor as party leader. It is unclear to what extent the ex-president, who lives in exile in Ivory Coast, will still act as a puller at the CDP. Komboïgo keeps a low profile and answers briefly: “He gives advice.”

Rumors of deals with Islamists

It is questionable whether there were actually no talks between the government and Islamists under Kaboré. An observer in Ouagadougou speaks of possible non-aggression pacts in the northern Sahel region, which borders Mali and Niger. Near the local city of Djibo, state security forces and suspected terrorists are said to have left alone. It is not clear to which group they belong and whether they are organized at all.

In any case, many rumors cannot be verified. Unlike in Niger, for example, there have been no kidnappings of employees of non-governmental organizations in the past few months, but attacks on the army. Religious representatives who are moderately well-known have also been targeted, such as the Imam of Djibo, whose body was found by armed men in mid-August a few days after his kidnapping.

Issa Diallo, President of the National Commission for the Language of the Peul (known as Fulani in Anglophone West Africa) also calls for the security situation to urgently improve. “All Peul who live in rural areas currently feel terrorized. You sleep poorly or not at all, ”he says. The ethnic group, known throughout the region for their livestock farming, would be attacked by state security forces.

The human rights organization Human Rights Watch reports on massacres in Djibo. There is also danger from the self-defense militias that have been set up in recent years among members of other ethnic groups. At first they just protected their villages from raids, today they have nationwide structures and the blessing of the government. The discussion is whether they should ensure security around the polling stations on Sunday.

Diallo says the militias scare the Peul. The Peul have one thing firmly in mind: They want to vote wherever possible. “It will be the first time in history that they will cast their votes in large numbers,” Diallo is sure. More than usual have applied for voter cards in advance. “After all, voting is the only way to change the situation in the country.”


Election under terrorist conditions (daily newspaper Junge Welt)

Fear of the jihadist threat: Many Burkinabe were unable to cast their vote on Sunday (Ouagadougou, November 22, 2020)

After the presidential and parliamentary elections in Burkina Faso, West Africa, the vote count is in full swing. First results are expected later this week. Around 6.5 million of the total of 21 million inhabitants were called on Sunday to cast their votes. The former banker Roch Marc Kaboré, who has been in office since 2015, and twelve opposition candidates took up the top position in the country.

According to the central electoral commission, however, around seven percent, i.e. around 400,000 eligible voters, were unable to cast their vote for fear of the jihadist violence rampant in the country – almost 1,500 of the approximately 8,000 communities in the country were excluded from the start due to the precarious security situation. The well-known journalist Newton Ahmed Barry reported that some polling stations in the east of the country had to close earlier because voters were threatened by jihadists. These would have told people: “Those who dip their fingers in ink can say goodbye to their fingers.” In the past five years alone, more than 1,600 people have been killed in terrorist attacks, and more than a million are displaced in their own country Country.

The opposition sees Kaboré as being responsible for this and also raised allegations of manipulation immediately after the election. For example, the incumbent president’s strongest challenger, former finance minister Zéphirin Diabré from the liberal Union for Progress and Change (UPC) and Eddie Komboïgo from the center-left party “Congress for Democracy and Progress” (CDP). Both announced on Sunday that they wanted to lodge a complaint against the election process. Diabré told journalists in the Burkinabe capital of Ouagadougou: “We will accept any result that is sincere. (…) We will not go and approve a masquerade and results that would be tainted by fraud and illegality. “

Kaboré had also started his political career with the CDP of the then President Blaise Compaoré, who was ousted in 2014 after a mass uprising. After Kaboré had opposed a constitutional amendment sought by Compaoré and was subsequently ousted, he founded the “People’s Movement for Progress” (MPP) in early 2014 and became its chairman.

With Komboïgo, the CDP is trying to return to the top of the state after not nominating a candidate in 2015. During the election campaign, the businessman mainly denounced the disastrous security situation and advocates finding out first of all who is behind the numerous attacks. He relies on dialogue, since most of the fighters are not foreign mercenaries, but young men from structurally weak regions of the country. In an interview with the pan-African weekly magazine Young Africa he emphasized on November 13th: “The CDP is still a large party, well organized and firmly established throughout Burkina Faso.”

Opposition candidate Diabré also stands for dialogue with the jihadist fighting groups: “Military actions alone have never been able to defeat terrorism in any part of the world,” he said AFP quoted. On the other hand, the incumbent President Kaboré publicly stands behind his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, who is primarily concerned with maintaining the militarization by the former colonial power in the Sahel region, if not expanding it: »We are not talking to terrorists. We fight.”