Burkina Faso is a parliamentary republic. In 2005 President Blaise Compaore was reelected to a third term with 80 percent of the vote. Observers considered the election to be generally free, despite minor irregularities, but not entirely fair due to the ruling party's control of official resources. The Constitutional Court ruled that there was no legal impediment to Compaore's candidacy, overruling appeals by several opposition candidates who contested his candidacy on the basis of a 2000 constitutional amendment that established term limits. The president, assisted by members of his party, the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), continue to dominate the government. The CDP and its allied parties won 98 out of 111 seats in the May 2007 legislative elections, which observers declared to be free and orderly except in four cities where irregularities and fraud involving voters' identification cards were noted. The government's human rights record remains mixed. Problems include: security forces' use of excessive force against civilians, criminal suspects, and detainees; arbitrary arrest and detention; abuse of prisoners and harsh prison conditions; official impunity; occasional restrictions on freedoms of the press and assembly; corruption; violence and discrimination against women and children, including female genital mutilation; trafficking in persons, including children; discrimination against persons with disabilities; and child labor.
The U.S. strategy for promoting democracy and human rights in the country focuses on strengthening political parties; building the capacity of female political leaders; preventing trafficking in persons and rehabilitating and reintegrating trafficking victims, including through the development of alternative economic opportunities; and working to eliminate exploitive child labor, particularly in the mining sector. Additionally, the embassy will continue to encourage the Burkinabe government to combat corruption and to improve freedom of the press.
The U.S. government encourages democracy, good governance, respect for human rights, and the rule of law using a variety of diplomatic and programmatic tools. To support free and fair elections, U.S. officials spoke with both political opposition and CDP representatives throughout the country to encourage democratic participation and to better understand issues facing political groups as they prepared for the legislative elections. The U.S. government provided funding for monitoring and reporting on these elections, and U.S. officials also participated in election observation. The United States is also funding a program that will build the capacity of women to participate in political processes.
To promote freedom of speech and of the media, the U.S. government provides media professionals with opportunities to exchange ideas with their international counterparts. In April 2007 the United States arranged and funded election coverage training for 30 Burkinabe journalists. The U.S. government sent journalists and professionals working in the areas of democracy, good governance, conflict resolution, and civic education to the United States to meet with American and international members of civil society and NGOs in their respective professions. Participants in this program included two women from a local women's Muslim association who were selected to attend programs on the "U.S. Political Process for Emerging Muslim Leaders," and on "The Role of Religion in Civil Society." During the month of Ramadan, U.S. officials in the country hosted two Iftaar dinners and spoke about Islam in the United States. Other outreach initiatives included film shows highlighting freedom of the press, tolerance, and women's rights, as well as debates on fighting corruption, the principles of journalism, and international politics.
The U.S. government works to expand respect for the rule of law by encouraging professionalism in the country's armed forces. Six individuals received military education in the United States. The United States also trained military personnel and civilians on maintaining civilian control of the military and on doctrines and rules of engagement during peacekeeping. The U.S. government also funded training for two Burkinabe peacekeeping battalions. The UN has accepted these battalions to be deployed in Darfur in 2008 on a rotating basis. The country continues to participate in U.S.-supported military cooperation conferences, seminars, and exercises, including seminars on subjects such as the role of the military in a democracy and the concerns of decision makers participating in and planning for peacekeeping operations. In addition, the United States provided input into anticorruption legislation circulated for comment by the government in 2007; some but not all of the suggestions were incorporated into the bill, which was voted into law in 2007.
The U.S. government funds a regional program in West Africa that provides support for the elimination of child labor in the mining sector, including in Burkina Faso. Two U.S.-funded programs that worked to eliminate and prevent child trafficking concluded during 2007; one of these programs operated only in Burkina Faso, while the other was a regional program that included several West and Central African countries.