Burkina Faso at Crossroads

Long spared by the Sahel’s jihadi groups, Burkina Faso is now confronted with increasingly frequent and lethal attacks in its northern and eastern provinces. Whereas the armed forces have launched some operations to contain the jihadi incursion, there has also been a spontaneous proliferation of vigilantes to counter bandits in the hinterlands. This policy brief aims to examine the latent informalization of the state security apparatus and its impact on the political trajectory of the country. By resorting to the ‘rule standardization1’ thesis, I argue that while the pluralization of security institutions may apparently provide the biggest opportunity for Burkina Faso to contain the jihadi incursion, any failure from the government to keep this patchwork of (new) security providers under tight control is likely to contribute to the country’s political fragmentation. This will constitute a blow to the resilience that the ‘land of honest men’ has shown until now and add Burkina Faso to the list of Africa’s fragile states.

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2019

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