Africa > West Africa > Burkina faso > Burkina faso Government Profile

Burkina Faso: Burkina faso Government Profile


A poor country even by West African standards, landlocked Burkina Faso has suffered from recurring droughts and, until the 1980s, military coups.

A popular uprising forced long-term leader Blaise Compaore from office in October 2014.

An interim government was put in place for a year, next which elections are to be held.

Burkina Faso has significant reserves of gold, but cotton is the economic mainstay for a lot of Burkinabes.

This industry is vulnerable to changes in world prices. A former French colony, it gained independence as Upper Volta in 1960. Since independence, the military has on several occasions intervened during times of crisis.

In 1983 Capt Thomas Sankara seized power and adopted radical left-wing policies.

He renamed the country Burkina Faso, which translates as "land of honest men".
At a glance


A popular uprising against long-term leader President Blaise Compaore prompted him to flee in 2014. The military has taken charge, angering the opposition which wants civilian rule


Burkina Faso has been involved in the various conflicts of the region. A lot of citizens who had traditionally worked in Ivory Coast fled next recent instability there

In 1987 Mr Sankara was overthrown and killed in a coup by his erstwhile colleague Blaise Compaore, who went on to re-introduce a multi-party system.

Burkina Faso has faced domestic and external concern over the national of its economy and human rights, and allegations that it was involved in the smuggling of diamonds by rebels in Sierra Leone.

Troubles in neighbouring Ivory Coast have raised tensions, with Ivory Coast accusing its northern neighbour of backing rebels in the north and Burkina Faso accusing Ivory Coast of mistreating expatriate Burkinabes.

The political situation in Burkina Faso is fairly stable. Although the political system is based on democracy and pluralism, the opposition is still weak and disorganised. A law recognising and defining the status of the opposition was adopted on 14 April 2009, and a national assembly resolution designating the opposition leader on 22 September 2009. It is still uncertain whether an open, transparent, credible and equitable presidential election will be organised in November 2010, because there is talk of revising Article 37 of the constitution, which limits the number of consecutive terms the president can serve. This plan is causing a good transaction of agitation in political circles and civil society.

Some civil society organisations are worthy of support. There is freedom of the press, and the privately owned media publicly condemn unethical behaviour.

Security problems, though still present in some parts of the country, have been diminishing as a result of various government measures in recent years aimed at increasing the number of security personnel, equipping them better and setting up local police forces.


Under the constitution of 27 November 1960, the country was governed by a president, a council of ministers, and a National Assembly of 50 members. On 5 January 1966, President Lamizana suspended the constitution and dissolved the National Assembly, announcing that he would exercise legislative and executive power by ordinance and decree. A constitution approved in 1970 provided for eventual restitution of democratic institutions, although with a formal role in the government for the military. The 1970 constitution was suspended in February 1974, at the same time as the army again assumed full power.

A democratic constitution, adopted in 1977, provided for a president and a 57-member National Assembly. This document was abolished next the coup of 25 November 1980, and the Military Committee for Reform and National Evolution (Comité Militaire de Redressement pour le Progrès National—CMRPN), led by Col. Sayé Zerbo, assumed power. The military coup of 7 November 1982 led to the abolition of the CMRPN and the formation of the People's Salvation Council (Conseil du Salut du Peuple—CSP) under Maj. Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo. The CSP was itself dissolved by the military coup of 4 August 1983, which established the National Revolutionary Council (Conseil National de la Révolution—CNR), a body that included radical former CSP members. Under Capt. Thomas Sankara, its chairman and the chief of national, the CNR was the supreme governmental authority and was assisted by a Council of Ministers. Following the October 1987 coup, this body was renamed the Popular Front, with Capt. Blaise Compaoré as its chief.

A new constitution, establishing the fourth republic, was adopted on 2 June 1991. Part other provisions, it called for an Assembly of People's Deputies with 107 seats (presently 111). The president is chief of national, chairs a council of ministers, appoints a prime minister, who with the legislature's consent, serves as chief of government. In April 2000, the constitution was amended reducing the presidential term from seven to five years, enforceable as of 2005, and allowing the president to be reelected only once. However, it was unclear whether this amendment would be applied retroactively or not. The legislative branch is a unicameral National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) consisting of 111 seats. Members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms.

Government type: 

parliamentary republic

Administrative divisions: 

45 provinces; Bale, Bam, Banwa, Bazega, Bougouriba, Boulgou, Boulkiemde, Comoe, Ganzourgou, Gnagna, Gourma, Houet, Ioba, Kadiogo, Kenedougou, Komondjari, Kompienga, Kossi, Koulpelogo, Kouritenga, Kourweogo, Leraba, Loroum, Mouhoun, Nahouri, Namentenga, Nayala, Noumbiel, Oubritenga, Oudalan, Passore, Poni, Sanguie, Sanmatenga, Seno, Sissili, Soum, Sourou, Tapoa, Tuy, Yagha, Yatenga, Ziro, Zondoma, Zoundweogo


5 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday: 

Republic Day, 11 December (1958)


approved by referendum 2 June 1991; formally adopted 11 June 1991; last amended January

Legal system: 

based on French civil law system and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch: 

unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (111 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) elections: National Assembly election last held 6 May 2007 (next to be held in May 2012) election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CDP 73, ADF-RDA 14, UPR 5, UNIR-MS 4, CFD-B 3, UPS 2, PDP-PS 2, RDB 2, PDS 2, PAREN 1, PAI 1, RPC 1, UDPS 1

Judicial branch: 

Supreme Court; Appeals Court

Political parties and leaders : 

African Democratic Rally-Alliance for Democracy and Federation or ADF-RDA [Gilbert OUEDRAOGO]; Citizen's Popular Rally or RPC [Antoine QUARE]; Coalition of Democratic Forces of Burkina or CFD-B [Amadou Diemdioda DICKO]; Congress for Democracy and Progress or CDP [Roch Marc-Christian KABORE]; Democratic and Popular Rally or RDP [Nana THIBAUT]; Movement for Tolerance and Progress or MTP [Nayabtigungou Congo KABORE]; Party for African Independence or PAI [Soumane TOURE]; Party for Democracy and Progress-Socialist Party or PDP-PS [Ali LANKOANDE]; Party for Democracy and Socialism or PDS [Felix SOUBEIGA]; Party for National Rebirth or PAREN [Jeanne TRAORE]; Rally for the Development of Burkina or RDB [Antoine KARGOUGOU]; Rally of Ecologists of Burkina Faso or RDEB [Ram OUEDRAGO]; Republican Party for Integration and Solidarity or PARIS; Union for Democracy and Social Progress or UDPS [Fidele HIEN]; Union for Rebirth - Sankarist Movement or UNIR-MS [Benewende STANISLAS]; Union for the Republic or UPR [Toussaint Abel COULIBALY]; Union of Sankarist Parties or UPS [Ernest Nongma OUEDRAOGO]

Political pressure groups and leaders: 

Burkinabe General Confederation of Labor or CGTB [Tole SAGNON]; Burkinabe Movement for Human Rights or MBDHP [Chrysigone ZOUGMORE]; Group of 14 February [Benewende STANISLAS]; National Confederation of Burkinabe Workers or CNTB [Laurent OUEDRAOGO]; National Organization of Free Unions or ONSL [Paul KABORE] other: watchdog/political action groups throughout the country in both organizations and communities

International organization participation: 


Flag description: 

two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and green with a yellow five-pointed star in the center note: uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia