The events currently striking Burkina, just reflect how much the post-crisis stabilization process was not conducted in a positive manner. The military coup which started on Wednesday, September 16th, 2015, shows one more time the destabilizing role of the African armies, when they are instrumented. Burkina which was about to finalize its transition, finds itself in a catastrophic situation with this military takeover by force.
The armies are very often, the engines of destabilization of the African regimes. The causes were widely examined, but the main ones remain the political instrumentalization and the lack of civic virtue. Mali was destabilized by its army, the same goes for many countries of which Ivory Coast in 1999. Indeed, many servicemen are actors of the destabilization of their countries, but not all of them. It is not a question of saying that all the servicemen are instrumented and to throw depreciation on the profession. Quite the opposite, it is a question of reminding how much responsible the African Armies are in the instability of the continent. The case of Burkina is very interesting, because while we are writing this post, the armed forces (army, gendarmerie and air force) are intervening to bring the transition back to its initial point, due to the unsatisfactory ECOWAS agreement proposal with the rebels (RSP). The RSP (elite presidential force) which conducted the military coup is facing the rest of the defense and security forces.
Countries in post-crisis situation or which are in full reconstruction, often overestimate their stabilization process. Some, consider themselves even stable, without all the prerequisites being taken into account. It is exactly this excess of confidence in a galloping economy, in some positive signs of recovery, that deceive the decision-makers and their vigilance.
The armies which are often affected by the interference of politics in the military affairs, find themselves compromised and partial. Moreover, an “elite unit” (RSP of Burkina), is often excessively armed and affiliated with a regime. However, it is good to underline that the army is in principle, the emanation of the nation and thus its reflection. A divided nation has a vulnerable army. On the contrary, A united army, worried of serving the Nation and apolitical, reflects a solid and constructed nation. How many African countries can boast to have such defense and security forces? Little, except some exceptions such as, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco and Senegal.
We shall now recall what we consider as being the major points of any post-crisis stabilization process, by emphasizing the fact that there are no “miracle solution” :
1/ The question of the national ownership of multisectorial stabilization is major. Indeed, several countries essentially built their stabilization process around an economic recovery program which is naturally insufficient (Cote d’Ivoire, etc.). Post-crisis stabilization is multidimensional and has to be considered as such! For instance, some countries implemented a heavy and expensive DDR program with mitigated results.
2/ Economic recovery, reconciliation and pacification of the territory must be concomitantly driven. In many cases, one is achieved to the detriment of the others, which has the effect of weakening the whole social reconstruction effort.
3/ To be successful, post-crisis stabilization and recovery must be inclusive. It is up to the political decision-makers to allow that any process of stabilization takes into account all the national stakeholders (civil society, NGOs, etc.). The marginalization of any of them, would weaken the whole process. Only an inclusive stabilization process is viable.
4/ Stability relies upon justice, reconciliation, good governance, social and economic reconstruction, political will from the “winner” and Security Sector Reform (SSR) implementation. The case of Burkina Faso, illustrates the necessity of an in-depth reform of its security and defense systems. An army which contributes constantly to destabilize a country is in distress. SSR brings coherence and professionalism in the defense and security sector.
5/ Mediation from exterior partners is vital. For instance the role of France in contributing to achieve stability in Côte d’ivoire is noteworthy. More than that, the role of international actors like Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and others to monitor the evolution of major issues in post conflict countries is also noticeable. Regional actors are as important. In the case of Burkina Faso, the involvement of ECOWAS is necessary.
6/ The inestimable financial and technical contribution of exterior partners, is an important factor of a successful post-crisis stabilization process. Indeed, the role of the international organizations and the bilateral partners is not to be underestimated. Very often, it is the exterior stakeholders who create the conditions of return to normality by accompanying countries afflicted by many years of conflict.
So as to conclude, we must keep in mind that once Burkina Faso will come out of this major crisis, the country will have to implement its transition process until the elections take place. Then, a post-crisis stabilization process could be conducted in a sustainable manner by being inclusive and comprehensive.
Thank you, Jean-Francois for another excellent, insightful and timely post!