Burkina Faso

In recent years, Burkina Faso – the “land of honest men” – has suffered spiraling conflict involving violent extremist organizations (VEOs), community self-defense groups, and the Burkinabè armed forces. Other issues, like persistent local disputes and endemic violence against women add to the country’s instability and threaten public confidence in the voting process. IRI is helping address these issues by identifying potential election-related violence, developing risk reduction plans, and designing public messaging to prevent and mitigate such violence.

A man stands in-between two ballot boxes

In November 2020, Burkina Faso’s presidential and parliamentary elections took place during a rise in armed violence and insurgency. Burkina Faso’s young democratic institutions were able to hold a competitive election between disorganized political parties, despite widespread population displacement in the northern and eastern regions of the country. Adding to the challenges in the country, the National Independent Electoral Commission (Commission électorale nationale indépendante, or CENI) is without a formal structure designed to prevent electoral violence.

Given the complex security challenges in Burkina Faso in the last several years, the CENI requires new risk analysis and violence mitigation planning support to address the myriad contemporary security threats to the electoral process. IRI trains members of the CENI and its provincial and communal units in regions at high risk of electoral violence. Training important election management groups, such as members of the CENI, allows IRI to have a long-lasting impact on stakeholders involved in reducing the risk of electoral violence. 

To ease conflict around elections, IRI is working with Burkinabè citizens on violence prevention assessments. IRI has done interviews with government and non-government stakeholders in the Nord, Est, and Sahel regions of the country to identify procedural issues, threats, and patterns of violence. IRI is also working to analyze the leaders and social groups likely to exacerbate or, hopefully, ease violence.  By working with people on the ground, IRI can identify safety risks for citizens and then work to mitigate those risks to promote safe democratic processes. IRI plays an important role in training and supporting election management officials  in  transparency and integrity, and works with stakeholders, including women and youth, in risk reduction planning. IRI supports election management officials in violence risk reduction strategies, training Burkinabè citizens and election officials in conflict management and response mechanisms that help prevent electoral violence.

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