Thousands protest and call for democracy

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement criticizing the move by the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore, who has been in power for nearly three decades, to stay in power by amending the constitutional provision on term limits:

“President Compaore’s efforts to change Burkina Faso’s constitution is a misguided move that betrays his fellow citizens.  A constitution is the bedrock of a functioning democracy and amending it to benefit one individual would directly sabotage good governance.

“It was inspiring to see images of thousands peacefully marching through Ouagadougou to oppose an indefinite presidency.  Others besides Compaore can lead Burkina Faso.

“Many, including other term-limited heads of state on the continent, are closely watching Burkina Faso. The decision made by the Burkinabe National Assembly will reach outside the country’s borders and may impact the course of elections elsewhere in Africa.

“President Compaore has a real opportunity to drop this power grab and set the right course for his country, and the continent quite frankly.  U.S.-Burkina Faso relations will be impacted by his choice.”

NOTE: In August, Chairman Royce penned an oped on the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and the need to press for good governance, where he wrote: “Two leaders most recently accused of seeking such constitutional changes — Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso — are in town for the Summit. Allowing them to return home without pressing for free, fair and regular elections would be an affront to the citizens of these two countries.”