Roch Marc Christian Kabore was sworn in as Burkina Faso’s president on Tuesday, completing a transition from the 2014 overthrow of longtime ruler Blaise Compaore in the troubled west African country. Kabore, 58, Burkina Faso’s first new leader in almost three decades, embarks on the first of two possible five-year terms.
“It’s a triumph of orderly transition, democracy and freedom,” said interim president Michel Kafando. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in October 2014 when Compaore sought to extend his 27-year rule, forcing him to step down. Kabore becomes only the third civilian president of the nine who have ruled since the country’s independence from France in 1960.
Kabore served as minister several times and prime minister in 1994, making him one of the main figures in Compaore’s regime, but he ultimately became one of the leading figures of the opposition that helped oust the longtime leader from power. Kafando, a retired diplomat, led the transitional regime, but before completing a year in the post faced a foiled coup led by Compaore’s ex-chief of staff, General Gilbert Diendere, in September.
New street protests backed by part of the army put Kafando back in the driver’s seat, and he organised the November 30 election won by Kabore. Seen as a consensus figure by some and an opportunist by others, Kabore has pledged to build “a new Burkina Faso” by fighting youth unemployment, improving education and modernising the health system.