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Burkina Faso

Sekondi Accra

Presidential elections were held on November 10, 2010 and as widely expected the incumbent candidate, Blaise Compaore' was re-elected to another five-year term. Many political analysts viewed Campaore's re-election as a mere formality because out of a field of a dozen candidates only two, Benewende Stanislas Sankara and Hama Arba Diallo, represented a serious challenge to the incumbent president. President Blaise Compaore' garnered over 80% of the popular vote. He is supported by several civil society organizations along with major political factions which include: the Congres pour la Democratie et le Progres, the Alliance pour la Democratie et la Federation-Rassemblement Democratique Africain and the Alliance des Partis et Formations Politiques de la Mouvance Presidentielle.

Many political observers are keyed to the year 2015 because that is when President Compaore' will complete his second and last constitutitonally authorized term. In order to remain president beyond 2015, he would have to revise Article 37 of the constitution, which limits sitting presidents to two terms. This became a contested issue of the 2010 election campaign. Many of the president's supporters are already campaigning for him to run again even though opposition parties and civil society groups are against revising Article 37. Campaore's allies emphasize his importance to the region by touting his peace brokering and mediation skills which have helped assuage the political crises in Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea.

The effects of an economic downturn which includes: higher cost for basic goods, frequent power failures and natural gas shortages are of paramount concern to Burkinabe. The slugguish domestic economy is a remnant of 2009, which was plagued by weather patterns that fluxuated between extremes of drought and flood which led to poor harvests resulting in a 2% decrease in economic growth to 3.2%. The country's economic situation is very fragile because of a lack of market diversification along with the continued faltering of international markets.

Despite nagging fiscal difficulties, the government is optimistic about the country's 2011 economic prospects. It believes that inflation will remain stable at around 2.7% throughout 2010-2011. It also predicts a GDP growth rate in 2010 of 6% because of anticipated growth in the global economy for cotton and gold in addition to stable oil prices. However, the International Monetary Fund is more reserved in its growth estimates, predicting 4.4% GDP growth for 2010 and 4.7% for 2011.

Indeed, the rising demand for cotton has increased the price paid to farmers for the 2010-11 growing season which saw the price paid to them rise to 182 CFA francs per kg from 160 CFA francs in the 2009-10 season. It is expected that the price increase will motivate farmers to cultivate 80% of the lands planted with genetically modified cotton, with the goal of producing 600,000 tons. However, due to the arrival of a late rainy season, farmers are not likely to meet the expected yields.

In 2009, gold supplanted cotton in national primacy. Yellow ore has replaced white ore and earned approximately 180 billion CFA francs ($378m) in export revenue in 2009. It is improbable that cotton will rebound as the primary commodity because annual gold exports were expected to rise to 300 billion CFA by the close of 2010 due to the opening of the Essakane mine in October 2011. The mining ministry predicts that the country will export more than 22 tons of gold annually starting in 2011, making Burkina Faso a major natural-resource exporter.

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Burkina Faso maintains an embassy in the United States at 2340 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-332-5577).
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