Burkina Faso, a former French colony, is a landlocked country in West Africa with a population of 17.4 million. The country gained independence in 1960 as Upper Volta before it was changed to Burkina Faso by Thomas Sankara after he became Prime Minister in 1987. It has since suffered recurring droughts and military coups. Blaise Campaore ruled for 27 years after seizing power from Capt Thomas Sankara in a military coup in 1987 until he (Campaore) was toppled by a popular youth uprising in 2014.
In the last two years, Burkina Faso has come under terrorist attacks, mostly by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) resulting in the killing of more than 64 people. In January 2016, terrorists besieged the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou frequented by foreign nationals and killed 3o including foreigners. In December 2016, 12 soldiers were killed by militants at the border with Mali. Three people were killed during a popular film festival in March 2017 after two police posts in the North were attacked by militants. In August 2017, 19 people were killed after an attack on a restaurant in Ouagadougou. The vulnerabilities posed by excessive youth unemployment, marginalization, poverty and historical conflicts terrorism and insecurity a pervasive threat.
Burkina Faso has had more than 5 coups following independence in 1960 from French colonial rule. The country experienced coups in 1966, 1980, 1982, 1983 and 1987 when Thomas Sankara was overthrown in a coup led by Blaise Campaore. A popular upheaval resulted in the ousting of Blaise Campaore in 2014. The last coup by a military junta led a Regiment of Presidential Security in September 2015 lasted for 8 days after which Michel Kafando was reinstated following pressure from the African Union, ECOWAS and the armed forces.
Burkina Faso’s army strength stands at a little over 6,000 men and no navy as the country is landlocked. The military are under-equipped and poorly trained compared to the elite regiment of Presidential Security. There are often disputes over salary levels, delays and conditions of service. The country’s police force is largely trained and support by France.
Citizens and foreigners can move about relatively freely but are both required to carry photo ID passports.
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