Members of the 1.500 strong; Regiment of Presidential Security ( RSP ), have launched a coup against the provisional government of Burkina Faso. Last year in October, dictator Blaise Compaoré was forced into exile, as the people rallied against him. Although the dictator was gone, his apparatus remained in power. Yacouba Isaac Zida was the military leader who took control after Blaise Compaoré fled. He became prime minister while Michel Kafando took the office of the president. Revolutionary socialists reject this provisional government as it changed little to nothing. Now the RSP have staged a coup. The soldiers of this elite force are supporters of the former dictator, as they were paid very good money to protect him. The military of Burkina Faso is very weak, only the Regiment of Presidential Security can be seen as a effective fighting force!
Workers and poor people must rise up again to denounce the coup. It shows why revolutionary socialists were right when we called for the removal of all elements loyal to Blaise Compaoré. Problem only was that the so called provisional government is made up of people who served under the former dictator. Yacouba Isaac Zida and Michel Kafando did not belong to the opposition. In fact they were part of the regime. However because most people in Burkina Faso have no class consciousness and no mass workers party fighting for democratic socialism, the provisional government was accepted!
The current coup started right after the provisional government decided to disband the Regiment of Presidential Security ( RSP ). This decision meant that 1.500 soldiers would lose their highly paid salaries and luxury they were used to have. Burkina Faso is a very poor nation, most of its wealth belong to a tiny corrupt-bureaucracy, around the former dictator. Although Compaoré fled, his supporters kept their power and wealth. Workers earn a very low income and 80% of all people work in agriculture. The soldiers of the RSP are enemies of the working class and must be opposed. If they do not surrender then a violent revolution is needed to overthrow them!
Workers across the nation must organize in democratic elected councils and take over power. Revolutionary socialists call for mass strikes and civil disobedience. If the police and military side with the RSP, they will be exposed as tools of the ruling bureaucracy. Burkina Faso has a population of 17 million, the armed forces only have 11.000 men under arms, including the 1.500 of the Regiment of Presidential Security. So the army is very weak and can be overthrown, if the working class unites. This is difficult as most political parties in Burkina Faso are ethnic sectarian. There are over nine ethnic groups living in the nation. The biggest of them are the Mossi people, who make up 48% of the population. Politicians are divided on ethnic lines and no mass workers party exists!
The ”Congress for Democracy and Progress” ( CDP ) is the only political party with a strong presence, because it was the tool of the former dictator. Blaise Compaoré legalized opposition parties in the early 1990’s, but in reality his CDP won every election. Like most African pseudo-democracies, Burkina Faso is not a free nation as elections were manipulated to favour the CDP. Although their power was broken after Compaoré fled, they still have the infrastructure and wealth. If the elections are held under RSP control then it is very possible the CDP returns to power. Because as the former party of the corrupt bureaucracy, the RSP will undoubtedly favour the ”Congress for Democracy and Progress”!
According to the militarists who staged the coup, the provisional government violated the constitution. This excuse is typical and used all the time when soldiers decide to remove a civilian government. It is even made clear that supporters of the far-right; Republican Party in the USA would favour a military coup, if militarists claim a civilian government violated the American constitution. Think of it, conservatives would support a military take over, if they claim to act in defence of the constitution. Most if not all coups led by soldiers base themselves on ”protecting the constitution”!
There is no time to waste for workers and poor people in Burkina Faso. Mass action is needed to show the RSP that they are not the true rulers. Should the police and other armed forces side with the new militarist regime, then workers must be ready to fight. A workers and peasants army is then to be build that removes the military from power. Important also to build a mass party of the working class, to act as the voice for those who have to sell their labour to survive!
There are similarities between Burkina Faso and Russia of 1917. Back then the provisional government who took power after the collapse of the Russian Empire, was also under siege by a right-wing military coup. Back then the red guards of the soviets were able to defeat this coup. If the workers of Burkina Faso build soviets of their own, they can defeat the RSP like the Bolsheviks did in 1917. In the end, a socialist revolution is the only way forward. This is what Thomas Sankara tried in 1983, when he staged a military coup of his own. Sankara was limited by his revolutionary militarism and murdered by his friend; Blaise Compaoré in 1987. Although the revolutionary period under Sankara was not true socialist, it showed what is possible if a government takes power away from those who own the means of production!
The fact that the Regiment of Presidential Security took power shows why it is not enough to only remove a dictator. You need to remove his supporters and the system he created. Even if a nation like Burkina Faso becomes a democracy, the ruling caste will use its wealth to buy politicians and most media attention. We already see this in the United States of America, were politicians are paid millions for right-wing economic politics. The ruling caste of Burkina Faso will not let go of their wealth win out a fight, the RSP just proven this. They were paid high salaries and could buy luxurious items, while the population was left to rot in poverty!
Revolutionary socialists say:
- No to the Regiment of Presidential Security
- No to their militarist coup and the provisional government
- Build democratic elected councils to take power away from the corrupt bureaucracy
- Nationalize the wealth of those who became rich under Blaise Compaoré
- Nationalize the means of production under workers self management
- Build a socialist Burkina Faso as part of socialist federation of Africa!