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Dynamic US-Africa Partnership Lauded at African Day Celebrations in Washington,DC.
May 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

Rev Jackson and Ambassador Teitelbaum in a group photo with African Ambassadors in Washington,DC. Rev Jackson and Ambassador Teitelbaum in a group photo with African Ambassadors in Washington,DC.[/caption] In celebrations to mark the 2015 African Day  in Washington, DC,  dynamic ties between the USA –Africa hailed by the Ambassador of Egypt Mohamed Tawfik. Speaking as co-Chair of the celebrations organized by the African Ambassador’s group, the Egyptian Envoy cited the last US-Africa’s Leaders’ Summit and the support that Africa continues to receive from the US in multiple forms. “The celebration is about Africa’s success”, said Ambassador Tawfik as he enumerated a litany of positive developments taking place in the continent. Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world he said, with life expectancy ticking up, and more children in school than at any other time. The continent is increasingly taking charge of its own security challenges and Egypt will be hosting a historic summit soon geared towards the creation of a broader Pan African free trade zone ,said Tawfik. In addition to Women serving as Presidents, and in parliament, Tawfik also cited the example of AU Chair Dlamini Zuma to highlight the progress made by women in the continent. Ambassador Donald Teitelbaum, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs delivered the keynote speech in which he highlighted the important role women have always played in the history of Africa. [caption id="attachment_18381" align="alignright" width="586"]Rev Jackson poses with members of the Ivorian dance troupe that animated the celebration Rev Jackson poses with members of the Ivorian dance troupe that animated the celebration[/caption] Celebrated under the theme “Women Empowerment & Development towards Achieving Africa Agenda 2063”, Ambassador Teitelbaum saluted the strides that have been made by the African Union and African countries. Africa’s biggest resource is its people Ambassador Teitelbaum and no country can get ahead if half of its population is left behind. Africa represents a growing a growing market and just this year alone, there have been some 316 million new cell phone subscribers reported ,Teitelbaum said. Programs like the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, have been helpful in alleviating the health plight of women and children, said. Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana of Rwanda who heads the African Ambassadors Group in Washington, DC, also spoke on the importance of placing women at the center of development. With Maureen Umeh of Fox TV as MC, the celebration had as special Guest the Rev Jesse Jackson ,Founder and President of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.  Other guests from the African American Community included Melvin Foote from the Constituency for Africa, and Denise Rolark Barnes, Publisher of the Washington Informer. Sponsored by Chevron, Coca Cola, and Exxon Mobile, guests were treated to an art exhibition and entertainment performance of folk dances from Egypt, Rwanda and Ivory Coast.      ]]>

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Burkina judge hears complaint of slain ex-leader's widow after 27 years
May 20, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Romaric Ollo Hien* [caption id="attachment_18269" align="alignleft" width="300"]Mariam Sankara, widow former president Thomas Sankara, waves to the crowd upon her arrival at Ouagadougou's airport, Burkina Faso, on May 14, 2015 (AFP Photo/Ahmed Ouoba) Mariam Sankara, widow former president Thomas Sankara, waves to the crowd upon her arrival at Ouagadougou’s airport, Burkina Faso, on May 14, 2015 (AFP Photo/Ahmed Ouoba)[/caption]

Ouagadougou (AFP) – Mariam Sankara, the widow of former Burkina Faso president Thomas Sankara, on Monday for the first time gave testimony in an inquiry looking into the assassination of her husband more than 27 years ago.

Sankara spent nearly eight hours at a military court in the capital Ouagadougou answering questions by a judge tasked with investigating her husband’s murder in a 1987 coup that saw his former friend Blaise Compaore take power.

“It was long but I think it was worth it,” a tired-looking Sankara told reporters after the marathon session. “He (the judge) went over my complaint, he had many questions.”

Sankara filed a complaint against persons unknown in 1997 for the assassination of her husband but the investigation was stonewalled under Compaore.

After Compaore stepped down last October over mass protests sparked by his bid to amend the constitution to extend his time in power, the new transitional government revived the probe into the death of one of Africa’s most idolised leaders.

Thomas Sankara was a popular Marxist army captain who came to power in a 1983 coup and transformed what was then the former French colony of Upper Volta into Burkina Faso. His spirit loomed large during the recent anti-Compaore protests.

One of Mariam Sarkara’s lawyers said Monday’s hearing marked a significant step forward in the search for justice.

[caption id="attachment_18270" align="alignright" width="300"]People gather to welcome Mariam Sankara, widow of former president Thomas Sankara, at Ouagadougou's airport, Burkina Faso, on May 14, 2015 (AFP Photo/Ahmed Ouoba) People gather to welcome Mariam Sankara, widow of former president Thomas Sankara, at Ouagadougou’s airport, Burkina Faso, on May 14, 2015 (AFP Photo/Ahmed Ouoba)[/caption]

“It was the first time she could make herself heard in the context of these proceedings,” said Ferdinand Djammen Nzepa, adding that his client had confirmed her “complaint against X”.

The complaint also accuses “X” of forging documents and of concealing the corpse.

Many Burkinabe, including Sankara’s family members, doubt that the corpse buried in a cemetery in the east of the capital is indeed that of Thomas Sankara.

Burkina Faso authorities in March ordered the corpse to be exhumed so it can be formally identified.

Mariam Sankara left Burkina Faso after her husband’s death, living mostly in France. She only returned to Ouagadougou for the second time in 27 years last week, when she received a hero’s welcome.

*AFP/Yahoo]]>

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West African leaders to discuss presidential term limits
May 20, 2015 | 0 Comments

Participants attend the 44th ECOWAS Summit at Felix Houphouet Boigny Foundation in Yamoussoukro March 28, 2014. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon Participants attend the 44th ECOWAS Summit at Felix Houphouet Boigny Foundation in Yamoussoukro March 28, 2014. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon[/caption]

ACCRA (Reuters) – West African leaders are due to discuss a proposal aimed at limiting presidential mandates to two terms at a regional summit on Tuesday, officials said.

The talks by members of West Africa’s ECOWAS bloc come as several long-standing African presidents are approaching legal term limits. Attempts to change the law, or circumvent it, have sparked unrest in Burundi and Burkina Faso.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the top United Nations official in West Africa, told Reuters that countries in the region without term limits would be encouraged to introduce them.

Togo and Gambia do not have term limits.

Another official with direct knowledge of the talks said leaders would be asked to commit to protecting clauses on term limits from any broader revisions of constitutions.

ECOWAS can suspend members who do not comply with regional measures.

*Yahoo/Reuters]]>

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Burkina Faso and Niger to swap towns in border change
May 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

Niger's justice minister and government spokesman Marou Amadou, seen on September 10, 2011 in Naimey, said the borders with Burkina Faso dated from 1926 (AFP Photo/Sia Kambou) Niger’s justice minister and government spokesman Marou Amadou, seen on September 10, 2011 in Naimey, said the borders with Burkina Faso dated from 1926 (AFP Photo/Sia Kambou)[/caption] Ouagadougou (AFP) – Burkina Faso and Niger have announced they will exchange 18 towns in order to settle a long-running border dispute and end years of litigationOuagadougou (AFP) – Burkina Faso and Niger have announced they will exchange 18 towns in order to settle a long-running border dispute and end years of litigation.

Burkina Faso is to gain 14 towns and Niger will receive four between now and the end of 2016 when the drawing of the boundary is complete, Kouara Apiou Kabore, the permanent secretary of the Burkina Faso National Border Commission said this week.

Niger and Burkina Faso, which were French colonies prior to independence in 1960, share a frontier of about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles), about a third of which has been mapped out on the ground.

The rest of the border, which has been contested by both countries, was redefined in a 2013 decision from the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

That ruling ordered the exchange of vast swathes of territory between the two countries, with 786 square kilometres handed to Burkina Faso and 277 square kilometres to Niger. The countries have just now agreed to implement that decision.

Once the chunks of territory have been exchanged, authorities will perform a census in the affected areas and locals will be allowed to chose which nationality they would like to hold, Apiou said.

“They will have five years to make their choice,” she added.

Niger’s justice minister and government spokesman Marou Amadou said the borders dated from 1926.

“The borders were drawn by non-Africans. Now we have settled this,” Amadou told AFP.

 

The authorities of both countries have assured that they will minimize the impact of this change their populations, but the locals involved greeted the news with fear.

“The villagers settled here for years due to soil fertility and it is this farmland that we are losing,” lamented Souleymane Weremi, a local official in Falangountou in Burkina Faso, assigning four villages to Niger.

The two countries have for decades been committed to the process of defining their border through a joint technical committee, but differences emerged on certain points of demarcation.

Amadou said drawing the borders allowed for “greater cohesion” between the populations of the two countries, which they would need in the future.

This case of rewritten borders may not be the last for Burkina Faso, which has more than 3,000 kilometres of frontier with Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Togo, with about a third of those boundaries still needing to be demarcated, authorities said.

Discussions with Ivory Coast have begun over a new common border, Apiou said.

Border issues remain a source of conflict in Africa despite the decision of the African Union to respect the borders inherited from colonisation after the independence of African states.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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BRVM Investment Days: West Africa’s financial centre meets the London Stock Exchange
April 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

The regional stock exchange for the eight countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union has chosen the London Stock Exchange as the venue for the second round of “BRVM Investment Days” brvmThe Bourse régionale des valeurs mobilières (BRVM)  is to hold a high-level meeting at the London Stock Exchange on 28 April 2015. The conference, which will be attended, amongst others, by Ms Nialé Kaba, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Economy and Finance, will provide an opportunity to present the financial centre of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) to international, and especially British, investors. The London Stock Exchange is Europe’s premier financial centre. “Following the success of the BRVM Investment Days in Paris in October 2014 , the British capital was the natural choice for the second round. The London Stock Exchange is developing cooperation with African finance and constitutes a real springboard for growth for the BRVM,” explains Gabriel Fal, Chairman of the BRVM’s Board of Directors. With market capitalisation having doubled in three years – standing at 7458 billion CFA francs (around USD 13.8 billion) on 31 December 2014 – and transaction volumes growing constantly, the BRVM is becoming a destination of choice for many international investors, eager to diversify their asset portfolio while simultaneously contributing to the development of African economies. “Along with Johannesburg, Lagos, Casablanca and Nairobi, our regional exchange embodies this new frontier of finance that offers safe investments with high returns,” says Edoh Kossi Amenounve, CEO of the BRVM. After a record 2013, which saw the BRVM 10 and BRVM Composite indices swell by 33.85% and 39.28% respectively, that growth was consolidated in 2014, as the BRVM 10 rose by 8.60% and the BRVM Composite by 11.23%. With two new entrants in recent months (Bank of Africa Senegal in December 2014 and Total Senegal in February 2015), the BRVM now has 39 listed companies. The last company to be floated on the exchange had been Bank of Africa Côte d’Ivoire back in April 2010. “If we add to that our inclusion in the S&P and MSCI international indices, we can see that the BRVM is now moving in a direction that is beneficial for everyone. The region’s companies are raising finance, while investors are increasing the value of savings in the UEMOA zone. Lastly, more and more citizens are becoming shareholders, which is the best way for our people to take ownership of our growth drivers and means of production,” says Edoh Kossi Amenounve. “To speed up this process, the BRVM has to attract international investors in search of emerging or pioneering financial centres. That is how we are going to deepen the market and increase its liquidity. To this end, the BRVM has brought itself into line with international standards: our market is monitored and regulated, and what is more, it is offering returns that you can’t find in the North at present,” explains Gabriel Fal. The role of the banking and finance sector in accelerating African growth, technological innovation and telecommunications as a driver of development, the rise of the middle class and the changing retail sector, and private and sovereign debt in the face of infrastructure financing challenges will be the main topics addressed at this second round of “BRVM Investment Days”. Top executives from several BRVM-listed companies (BMCE Bank, a shareholder in Bank of Africa, Ecobank, Orange, a shareholder in Sonatel, Total Senegal, Palmci, SAPH, and CFAO, a shareholder in CFAO Motors Côte d’Ivoire) will be taking part in this second round of “BRVM Investment Days”. Launched on 16 September 1998, the Bourse régionale des valeurs mobilières (BRVM) (http://www.brvm.org) is a regional stock exchange for the eight countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA): Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. It is headquartered in Abidjan. The BRVM comprises 39 listed companies, the three biggest stocks being Sonatel, Ecobank and Solibra. The BRVM also offers extensive bond market activity (both private and sovereign). Since 1998, more than 280 transactions have been completed, raising 3887.1 billion CFA francs (USD 7.2 billion): 644,054 billion CFA francs (USD 1.2 billion) in capital transactions and 3243.55 billion CFA francs (USD 6 billion) in bond issues *APO/BRVM]]>

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Burkina Faso seals ex-president's tomb for probe
April 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

A man walks past a painting featuring military captain Thomas Sankara (L) in Ouagadougou on November 18, 2010 (AFP Photo/Ahmed Ouoba) A man walks past a painting featuring military captain Thomas Sankara (L) in Ouagadougou on November 18, 2010 (AFP Photo/Ahmed Ouoba)[/caption]

Ouagadougou (AFP) – Burkina Faso authorities investigating the assassination of former president Thomas Sankara during a 1987 coup have sealed his tomb ahead of attempting to identify the remains of the late leader, a lawyer for his family told AFP on Friday.

A magistrate from a military court ordered “placing seals on 12 tombs” of Sankara and 11 other people, mostly members of the military who died at the same time, the lawyer, Benewende Sankara, said.

“The police is keeping guard and no one is allowed to have access without authorisation from the judge,” said the lawyer, who is not related to the deposed president.

The seals were placed Thursday at the Dagnoen cemetery, east of the capital Ouagadougou, the lawyer said.

Sankara, one of Africa’s most idolised leaders, was officially buried, but many of his family members expressed doubt that his corpse was the one in the tomb and had been asking for an investigation since 1997.

Officials said in March that they were opening a probe into the assassination.

The government ordered that Sankara’s body be exhumed in an effort to identify the remains of the late leader, slain in a putsch that saw his former friend and protege Blaise Compaore take power.

Compaore held power for 27 years, but stepped down on October 31, 2014, after mass rallies opposing a bid to amend the constitution to allow him to stay in power.

The new Burkina government headed by Michel Kafando promised to look into the questions over Sankara’s body.

A pan-Africanist revolutionary, Sankara transformed what was then the former French colony of Upper Volta into Burkina Faso, which means “Land of the Upright Men”.

*Source Yahoo/AFP]]>

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Burkina Faso probe begins into Sankara assassination
March 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

Ouagadougou (AFP) – Burkina Faso has begun an investigation into the 1987 assassination of former president Thomas Sankara, whose family has long called for a probe of his death, an official said Tuesday.

[caption id="attachment_17107" align="alignleft" width="300"]Captain Thomas Sankara, then President of Burkina Faso, sits during a press conference in Harare, Zimbabwe, on September 2, 1986 (AFP Photo/Dominique Faget) Captain Thomas Sankara, then President of Burkina Faso, sits during a press conference in Harare, Zimbabwe, on September 2, 1986 (AFP Photo/Dominique Faget)[/caption]

Sankara’s relatives have been told that the case of the popular Marxist revolutionary was being pursued by an investigating magistrate from a military tribunal, their lawyer Benewende Sankara, who is no relation, said Tuesday.

A high-ranking justice official confirmed the news on condition of anonymity, saying “the case has arrived, the order for the proceedings has been signed, an investigating magistrate has been appointed.”

The government ordered in March that Sankara’s body be exhumed in an effort to identify the remains of the late leader, slain in a putsch that saw his former friend and protege Blaise Compaore take power.

Sankara, one of Africa’s most idolised leaders, was buried in a cemetery in the east of the capital Ouagadougou but many of his family members doubt if the corpse is indeed his and have been asking for an investigation since 1997.

Compaore held power for 27 years, but stepped down on October 31, 2014, after angry mass rallies opposing a bid to amend the constitution to allow him to stay in power.

The new Burkina government headed by Michel Kafando promised to look into the questions over Sankara’s body.

“We went to congratulate the president for having kept his promise,” said Sankara, the lawyer.

A pan-Africanist revolutionary, Sankara transformed what was then the former French colony of Upper Volta into Burkina Faso, which means “Land of the Upright Men”. His spirit loomed large during the recent anti-Compaore protests.

Sankara’s legacy was formidable. In the four years under his rule, the schooling rate shot up from six percent to 22 percent, millions of children were vaccinated, and thousands of health centres were created.

*AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Late firebrand leader Sankara strikes chords at Burkina film fest
March 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

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[caption id="attachment_16961" align="alignleft" width="300"]Delegates of FESPACO look as Prime Minister Isaak Zida (right) launches the 2015 Pan-African Film and Television Festival at Ouagadougou (Fespaco) in Ouagadougou on February 28, 2015 (AFP Photo/Ahmed Ouoba) Delegates of FESPACO look as Prime Minister Isaak Zida (right) launches the 2015 Pan-African Film and Television Festival at Ouagadougou (Fespaco) in Ouagadougou on February 28, 2015 (AFP Photo/Ahmed Ouoba)[/caption]

Ouagadougou (AFP) – Even in death, the former revolutionary leader of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara, helped inspire the uprising that ousted his successor last year, and he came to the fore again at the country’s annual film festival.

The audience at the 24th pan-African FESPACO in Ouagadougou, which wrapped up at the weekend, was moved to rowdy appreciation at the screening of “Captaine Thomas Sankara”, a flattering 90-minute portrait of the iconoclastic Marxist soldier by Swiss director Christophe Cupelin.

Sankara seized power on August 4, 1983 in then Upper Volta in a coup backed by many compatriots who shared his wish to stamp out corruption and bring sweeping social change to the former French colony.

Dubbed Africa’s “Che Guevara” by admirers, the new head of state, at age 33, soon changed the name of the deeply poor west African country to Burkina Faso, meaning “the land of upright men”, where he also campaigned strongly for women’s rights.

Sankara’s reputation spread far beyond Burkina’s landlocked borders because of his determined anti-imperialist outlook and a raft of measures to end dependency on foreign aid.

Known for strong statements during his speeches, the fiery leader urged the whole of Africa to halt debt repayments to developed nations. “If we pay, we’re the ones who are going to die,” he said at the rostrum of the Organisation of African Unity, today the African Union.

In addition to archive footage, Cupelin presents a range of statistics. Under Sankara’s rule, the number of children in school rose from six percent to 22 percent, two million youngsters were vaccinated in just two weeks, and a public housing programme got under way, while thousands of health clinics were built. The gross domestic product doubled.

When asked by a journalist towards the end of his life about rumours of a possible bid to oust him, Sankara was prescient. “The day you learn that Blaise (Compaore) is preparing something against me, don’t try to intervene, it will be too late,” he said.

And in the end, Sankara was overthrown on October 15, 1987, in a coup led by his longtime comrade-in-arms, Blaise Compaore, who in turn was ousted last October when he sought to prolong his 27-year rule.

– Audience ‘stood as one’ –

Emotions have run high in Ouagadougou in the aftermath of the uprising against Compaore during which Sankara’s principles made a vocal comeback.

When the film was shown for the first time in Burkina at the grand Neerwaya cinema, with 3,000 seats, the audience noisily applauded each of Sankara’s lines and booed Compaore when he appeared on screen.

“Everywhere, the film has been greeted in the same fashion, very positive,” Cupelin told AFP. “Citizens of the world can identify with Sankara’s speeches.”

According to the director, in Argentina, which was ravaged by a military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983, the audience “stood as one and applauded” when they heard Sankara say, “A military man without political training is a criminal in the making.”

After seeing the film, self-proclaimed “pioneer of the revolution” Moussa Ouedraogo, 37, said he felt “very nostalgic and very proud… The struggle continues, we are holding the flame high.”

A French viewer of the film said it gave her a better understanding of why a popular uprising erupted against Compaore. “I understand better what’s going on, the impetus that the people want to give, or rather give back, to the country,” said Maria Gaschet.

*Source AFP/Yahoo

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Burkina orders exhumation of slain leader Sankara's corpse
March 7, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Romaric Ollo Hien*

Ouagadougou (AFP) – The government of Burkina Faso has ordered former president Thomas Sankara’s corpse to be exhumed, potentially rekindling controversy over the 1987 assassination of one of Africa’s most idolised leaders.

[caption id="attachment_16925" align="alignleft" width="300"]Former president of Burkina Faso, Captain Thomas (AFP Photo/-) Former president of Burkina Faso, Captain Thomas (AFP Photo/-)[/caption]

A government decree issued late Wednesday said the move was aimed at formally identifying the remains of Sankara, slain in a putsch that saw his former friend and protege Blaise Compaore take power.

Sankara, a popular Marxist army captain who came to power in a 1983 coup, was buried in a cemetery in the east of the capital Ouagadougou but many of his family members doubt if the corpse is indeed his.

Compaore held power for 27 years, but stepped down on October 31, 2014, after angry mass rallies opposing a bid to amend the constitution to allow him to stay in power.

The new Burkina government headed by Michel Kafando said Sankara’s family would be provided with the necessary means to help identify the corpse.

But Sankara’s widow Mariam on Wednesday denied that she had been approached by the government on the issue.

Sankara’s family has been asking in vain since 1997 for an investigation amid claims that the corpse buried in his grave was not that of the former leader.

Compaore’s regime obstructed their efforts and even ignored an order from the African Court on Human and People’s Rights for DNA testing of the body in Sankara’s grave.

A pan-Africanist revolutionary, Sankara transformed what was then the former French colony of Upper Volta into Burkina Faso, which means “Land of the Upright Men”. His spirit loomed large during the recent anti-Compaore protests.

After taking power in November, Kafando promised to look into the questions over Sankara’s body.

Sankara is still revered in the west African region almost 30 years after his death and a documentary on the revolutionary was a star draw at the latest edition of Fespaco, Africa’s largest flm festival held every two years in Ouagadougou.

The 90-minute film “Captain Thomas Sankara” made by Swiss director Christophe Cupelin highlights Sankara’s iconoclastic speeches, including a call to Africa not to pay debts owed to the West.

“If we pay them, it is us who will die,” he famously said.

Sankara also famously upbraided former French president Francois Mitterrand for officially receiving people like apartheid-era South African former president P.W.Botha.

“How can one let these people, whose hands and feet are stained with blood, sully France, a country that is so clean and so beautiful?” he had said.

Sankara’s legacy was formidable. In the four years under his rule, the schooling rate shot up from six percent to 22 percent, millions of children were vaccinated, and thousands of health centres were created, according to Cupelin.

Sankara’s socialist revolution sought to dismantle the country’s legacy of colonialism and economic dependence. He set up “revolutionary people’s tribunals” to try former public officials charged with political crimes, and stripped traditional chiefs of their rights and privileges.

*Source AFP/Yahoo  ]]>

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Louis Berger helps Millennium Challenge Corporation complete $480 million anti-poverty program in Burkina Faso
February 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

louis-bergerLouis Berger , acting as the procurement agent for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), recently marked the completion of the agency’s $480 million poverty reduction program in Burkina Faso. As procurement agent for the program, Louis Berger oversaw the purchase and distribution of all goods and services, ensuring the program remained within budget. At the end 2014, after the Compact’s closure period, Louis Berger reported a 99 percent Compact funds disbursement rate and had managed more than 500 procurement processes. As part of MCC’s five-year Burkina Faso Compact, the poverty reduction program aimed to spur economic growth by boosting agricultural production, improving livestock and financial management, enhancing access to domestic and international markets, and increasing the number of girls attending school. By the end of the Compact, MCC had made demonstrable progress on its measurement and evaluation criteria in the West African country, including the: Training of almost 10,000 farmers in advanced agricultural techniques, •          Training of 700 judges in the management of land disputes, •          Immunization of more than 1.4 million cattle and poultry, •          Construction or modernization of  400 classrooms, and •          Graduation of more than 3,100 girls and almost 2,750 boys from the program. “Due to the Compact’s size and fixed implementation period, serving as the program’s procurement agent proved to be a challenging undertaking,” said Pascal Houdeau, Louis Berger’s deputy general manager of operations for Western and Eastern Africa. “Nonetheless, the development outcomes in Burkina Faso are gratifying and could not have been achieved without an effective procurement system in place.” Louis Berger has more than 50 years of experience in Africa and nearly 30 years of project implementation in Burkina Faso. To learn more about the MCC’s Burkina Faso Compact and the development outcomes the program achieved, visit MCC’s Burkina Faso country page

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Burkina to review presidential guard's role amid row with premier
February 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Nadoun Coulibaly* [caption id="attachment_16182" align="alignleft" width="300"]Burkina Faso President Michel Kafondo (R) and Prime Minister Isaac Zida (L) arrive at a memorial service for six people who died during the recent popular uprising in Ouagadougou, December 2, 2014. REUTERS/Joe Penney Burkina Faso President Michel Kafondo (R) and Prime Minister Isaac Zida (L) arrive at a memorial service for six people who died during the recent popular uprising in Ouagadougou, December 2, 2014. REUTERS/Joe Penney[/caption]

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – Burkina Faso has said it will review the presidential guard’s role in a bid to defuse a row between Prime Minister Isaac Zida and the elite corps frustrated by his efforts to cut its pay and curtail its influence.

The announcement came after Zida unexpectedly cancelled a cabinet meeting on Wednesday following calls from within the guard for him to resign and abandon efforts to reduce its size and pay, military sources said.

The tension between the guard and Zida, a former senior commander in its ranks, prompted United Nations and African Union officials to warn against any interference in the country’s transition to democracy.

Zida leads a cabinet dominated by military leaders that took over after protesters backed by the elite guard ousted long-time president Blaise Compaore last October. It is mandated to lead the West African country to elections in November.

Transitional President Michel Kafondo said after a meeting with military commanders late on Wednesday that he would create a commission “to rule on the future role and functioning of the presidential security regiment”.

“The head of state appeals to everyone for calm,” he said in a statement, adding Zida would also hold talks with army chiefs.

The transitional government faces a budgetary shortfall this year and is under pressure to reduce spending, amid popular demands that it also improve living standards.

As part of Wednesday’s deal, some senior military appointments made by Zida would be reviewed, a military source said.

In the wake of the agreement, civil society groups abandoned a call for protests in Ouagadougou on Thursday.

The uprising that toppled Compaore after 27 years in power stirred hopes of democratic change in many African countries where long-term leaders are nearing the end of their terms.

Protesters in Democratic Republic of Congo cited the uprising as an inspiration for street protests last month that forced the government to drop plans for legal changes that could have delayed elections.

Jeffrey Feltman, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said in Ouagadougou on Wednesday that the international body would not tolerate any attempt to interfere with the transition.

“Those who threaten the transition should be aware that the international community is watching and will hold them accountable,” he said in a statement.

The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, also condemned in a statement on Wednesday any attempt to weaken transitional institutions and urged defence forces to respect the transitional institutions.

*Source Reuters/Yahoo]]>

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Burkina presidential guard calls for PM to step down
February 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

Ouagadougou (AFP) – Burkina Faso’s elite presidential guard is calling for interim Prime Minister Isaac Zida to step down, security sources said Wednesday.

[caption id="attachment_16168" align="alignleft" width="300"]A picture taken on November 6, 2014 shows Burkina Faso's Prime Minister Isaac Zida during a press conference in Ouagadougou (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo) A picture taken on November 6, 2014 shows Burkina Faso’s Prime Minister Isaac Zida during a press conference in Ouagadougou (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)[/caption]

Members of the army’s presidential security regiment (RSP) “are calling for the resignation of the prime minister,” who has been in the job for little more than two months following a popular uprising last year, one of the sources told AFP.

Ties between the RSP and military-ruler-turned-prime-minister Zida have been strained after he publicly called for the dissolution of the presidential guard in the wake of the revolt.

The RSP was widely criticised for its role in a heavy-handed crackdown by security forces on the mass protests that ousted former president Blaise Compaore in late October.

At least 24 people were killed in the demonstrations and more than 600 were injured, according to an official inquiry.

A planned meeting of the council of ministers on Wednesday morning had to be cancelled as Zida was called into talks with members of the RSP.

A diplomatic source told AFP tensions had been simmering for weeks. “We were expecting something like this,” the source said.

The International Crisis Group said in a report last week that any dissolution of the presidential guard “must be done with great care”.

“Unless RSP members are offered continued salary payment, pension rights and career progression, they could resort to violence and threaten the transition,” it said.

The uprising in Burkina Faso was triggered in part by Compaore’s bid to change the constitution to seek a further term in office after 27 years in power.

After Compaore fled the country on October 31, the military briefly seized power but agreed to hand over to a transitional government in the face of international pressure.

Zida was then picked to become interim premier under civilian President Michel Kafando.

Last month, Kafando announced that presidential and legislative elections will be held in October.

Burkina Faso is a major exporter of cotton and gold, but almost half the population lives on less than a dollar a day and many are subsistence farmers.

Every change of regime in the country has been triggered by a coup since independence from France in 1960, when it was called Upper Volta.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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