The Burkinabè government has passed a bill revising the Constitution, officially recognising national languages as the country’s official languages, while relegating French to the status of a “working language.” The bill, which is part of the transitional government’s mission to strengthen democracy and the rule of law, aims to initiate political, administrative, and institutional reforms.
Among the significant changes introduced by the bill is the establishment of national languages as official languages, replacing French. This move follows a similar decision made earlier this year by Mali, which also modified its Constitution to downgrade French to a working language.
The bill, which still requires approval from the Transitional Legislative Assembly, also includes provisions for the establishment of traditional and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Furthermore, the bill expands the missions of the Constitutional Council while abolishing institutions such as the High Court of Justice, responsible for judging senior political figures, and the Mediator of Faso.
The National Intelligence Agency (ANR), a powerful agency, has its status reinforced and protected by being enshrined in the Constitution.
In recent months, demonstrations advocating for a new Constitution have taken place in Burkina Faso. Captain Ibrahim Traoré, who assumed power in September 2022, had pledged to partially modify the Constitution two months ago.
Prime Minister Apollinaire Joachimson Kyelem of Tambela stated that the writing of a new Constitution is essential for political, economic, and cultural sovereignty. Burkina Faso aims to move away from foreign concepts and establish its own identity. These changes reflect a shift in the country’s relationship with France, its former colonial power, and a move towards closer ties with Moscow.
Since 2015, Burkina Faso has been grappling with violence perpetrated by jihadist groups, which have also affected neighbouring Mali and Niger, resulting in a death toll of over 17,000 people.