BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

Burkina Faso's president on growth, military reform and the fight against terrorism

Roch Kaboré, who took office in December, faced a tough test in January, when Islamist militants carried out deadly attacks in the capital Ouagadougou.

Now Reading:

Burkina Faso's president on growth, military reform and the fight against terrorism

Text size Aa Aa

Roch Kaboré is the President of Burkina Faso. He was sworn in on December 29, 2015 and has now been more than 100 days at the helm of this small West African nation. Euronews met him during his first state visit to Paris.

Point of view

French forces, which have much more experience in this fight against terrorism, can initially help our armies be better structured... But in the end, we would need to be able to ensure our own safety

Roch Kaboré: a quick biography

  • Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was sworn in as Burkina Faso’s president on December 29, 2015
  • In 1984, at just 27 years old, he became chief executive of the International Bank of Burkina
  • Throughout the presidency of Blaise Compaoré, he held several positions, including finance minister
  • In January 2014, he cut ties with Compaoré and founded the Movement of People for Progress (MPP)

Stéphane Parizot, euronews:
_Mister President, hello and welcome to Euronews. Just two weeks after you took office in late December, Burkina Faso was hit by terror attacks. On January 15, jihadists from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb struck at the heart of Ouagadougou, killing 30 people. How well is the country recovering from this attack?

Roch Kaboré:
“Thanks to the solidarity shown by our neighbors and friends, Burkina Faso recovered quickly. We decided not to be intimidated by this kind of event. Because it’s important we realize that we must live with that threat, and we must do everything we can to stop terrorism in our country.”

euronews:
Has this attack changed Burkina Faso’s society?

Roch Kaboré:
“Obviously it changed something in the behaviour of citizens: they are much more vigilant, much more careful, much more is being done in terms of security in key places in our country to ensure peace for our citizens.”

euronews:
What means does Burkina have today to tighten its borders and prevent jihadists from entering the country, for instance from Mali?

Roch Kaboré:
“The means we have today are collaboration between the security forces of Mali and Burkina Faso. We have decided of course to have joint patrols, but you know it’s over 1,000 kilometers… with France we are working on ways to guarantee the security of our borders and of the various West African countries.”

euronews:
France has said it would deploy security forces on Burkina’s soil, but without warning you and the country’s authorities. You told French authorities you weren’t happy about that, right after the announcement by the French interior minister… how do you perceive the role and the involvement of French forces within Burkina and West Africa?

Roch Kaboré:
“First I would like to avoid any misunderstanding. We have clarified this issue with the minister Mr Cazeneuve, whom we’ve met, and once again we expressed our discontent. We think French forces, which certainly have much more experience in this fight against terrorism, can initially help our armies be better structured, better organised to face that challenge. But in the end, we would need to be able to ensure our own safety without relying on French forces.

euronews:
Let’s continue with international issues. Are you, Mister President, watching the migration crisis unfolding in Europe, which is threatening the foundations of the European project? Are you critical of Brussels on this topic?

Roch Kaboré:
“We are following the crisis that’s unfolding within the European Union. And I’d say it’s first and foremost a financial crisis. Immigration is only a phenomenon added to that state of affairs. So for my part, I think it’s important that reforms be carried out. Institutions like the EU are typically very remote from populations. And all that people see in them is bureaucrats making decisions at the top, but in the end there’s little concern about the impact of these decisions on people. And I think that means we need to bring regional institutions – including in Africa – closer to the people, to be able to bring them the right solutions.

euronews:
Do you wish to boost cooperation with Europe, with Brussels?

Roch Kaboré:
“I think it’s necessary, it’s absolutely necessary that the cooperation we have today, and that’s what we’ve asked France… We asked not only for the backing of France but also more generally for lobbying at the European level, to get much more support from them too. And I must say it [Brussels] is a destination I will be heading to soon to plead the case of Burkina Faso, at the European level.

euronews:
Let’s now move on to an important aspect of the campaign that brought you to power in December, the economic and social situation of Burkina. You said, the day after you were elected, that your first priority would be to reorganise the army. Why this priority, given Burkina’s economic situation?

Roch Kaboré:
“It’s important that we overhaul the army – first so it can be a republican army, so it can be an apolitical army, and that it stick to its role, which is to defend Burkina Faso’s territory and people.”

euronews:
You’ve pledged to bring Burkina back to economic growth of more than 5 percent, as in the 2000’s. How can this challenge be met, knowing that the drop in the prices of gold and cotton, Burkina’s main exports, could get in your way this year?

Roch Kaboré:
“According to our forecasts, at least, we think in 2016 we will certainly have a growth rate of about 5.7 percent, which is also thanks to the policy we will be carrying out. We’ve pledged to bring down state expenses, and I would also like to highlight that, for us, the focus should not only be on education, but also on agriculture and farming. Because we think that in that sector there is enough space to create small and medium enterprises that would add value to Burkina Faso’s output.”

euronews:
Let’s now talk about the relations Burkina has with its neighbours, particularly Ivory Coast. These have been soured by your arrest warrants for Blaise Compaoré and Guillaume Soro. You’ve told a recent press conference you were not closing the door on diplomacy. How do you see the future of your relations with Ivory Coast?

Roch Kaboré:
“We’ve given the impression that these relations were soured, but I can assure you that between the peoples of Ivory Coast and of Burkina, but also between heads of states and governments, relations are absolutely excellent. We’ve simply decided it was perhaps best to step aside from ongoing judicial procedures.”

euronews:
Mister President, one last question that will throw you back to the past. What memories do you have of your business studies in France?

Roch Kaboré:
“It was a chance to make many friends, with Africans as well as other French students. And I think those are the best memories you have in life, that time when you’re a student… it was very nice.”