Africa Notes: Burkina Faso in Transition - April 1990
April 30, 1990
For the observer of African politics, Burkina Faso has exemplified a range of the continent's most troubling economic and political syndromes. Since its independence from France in 1960 as the Republic of Upper Volta, the landlocked West African nation has had five changes of head of state, none via the ballot box (see "Burkina Faso's Domestic Political History in Brief," page 7). The current head of state, Captain Blaise Compaoré, overthrew his predecessor, Captain Thomas Sankara, less than three years ago. He remains engaged in a struggle for political legitimacy and is also seeking to rebuild some of the diplomatic bridges scorched by Sankara. At the same time, the regime is doggedly fighting to keep the economy from slipping into permanent basket-case status. Success in this effort could make Burkina a bellwether for other beleaguered nations on the continent.