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09OUAGADOUGOU135 2009-03-03 17:45:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Ouagadougou
Cable title:  

BURKINA FASO: PRESIDENTIAL FAREWELL WITH AMBASSADOR

Tags:   PGOV PREL PTER UV 
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1. (C/NF) During a relaxed, forty-minute farewell call
with Ambassador Jackson, President Campaore covered a range
of international and domestic issues. He presented an
image of an elder statesman supporting democratization in
Mauritania, while promoting peace and stability in Darfur
and the Sahel. On the domestic front, he stressed his
interest in democratization through programs of good
governance, economic development and decentralization.
While it remains unclear how much the President has truly
taken ownership of these ideas, he certainly understands
the themes that resonate with the United States and other
international actors. End Summary.



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Focus on International Affairs


--------------------------





2. (C) Ambassador Jackson paid a farewell call on
President Blaise Compaore February 24th. During a
forty-minute, cordial meeting, the President praised the
Ambassador for her work during the past three years and
more generally expressed his satisfaction with the state of
bilateral relations. He also used the occasion to
reconfirm that he had given his personal approval to host
the international military exercise Flintlock in Burkina
Faso in April-May 2010.



3. (C) Turning to regional issues, Compaore indicated a
certain amount of optimism about the recent Darfur peace
negotiations in Doha. He said that the Burkinab mediator,
Djibril Basole, was using an approach that brings together
the government of Sudan with the major rebel groups to
begin discussions. Once there is progress in these talks,
Compaore said, other rebel groups and civil society more
generally would join the process. He did wonder aloud how
the March 4 indictment of Sudanese President Bashir would
affect the process, but did not make a strong pitch on the
issue. Ambassador Jackson urged that Burkina Faso's
Ambassador to the United Nations work closely with
Ambassador Rice on questions relating to Darfur.



4. (C) On Mauritania, Compaore stressed that pushing the
junta to hold credible elections would be important but
difficult. The key issues, he claimed, were to have an
independent election commission and to ensure that the
military leaders did not run for office, at least not as
long as they remained in the military. He expressed a
certain amount of pessimism on this subject, saying that he
was not at all sure there would be credible elections. It
would be important for the international players, he said,
to point out the negative consequences for Mauritania
should the elections not be handled properly.



5. (C) In something of a new twist, Compaore raised
concerns about regional security in the Sahel region. He
said that he was worried that "Salafists" had "installed
themselves" in Northern Mali. Specifically he said that he
was concerned because they had seized hostages and that
there might be further instability stemming from these
activities. Without providing further details, he indicated
that Burkina Faso would soon be approaching the US with
certain concrete proposals on how to combat instability in
the Sahel region.



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Domestic Concerns


--------------------------





6. (C) As the conversation turned to domestic issues,
Ambassador Jackson pointed out that while there had indeed
been progress, more needs to be done in the area of
democratization. The President agreed, and said that it
will be particularly important to continue strengthening
institutions, particularly the judiciary, and also to
increase good governance. It would be particularly
important to move ahead with land reform, he said, but it
will also be quite difficult. On the positive side, the
traditional chiefs' historical control over the land had
been broken some years ago, he argued, but it would still
take a concerted effort to carry through the program.
(Note: land tenure reform is a significant cmponent of
the Millennium Challenge Corporation' compact with Burkina
Faso.)



7. (C) Land refom is particularly important to Burkina
Faso, ccording to Compaore, because it will help slow down
the process of urbanization. He pointed out that the
country is less urbanized than many in the region, and that
as Ouagadougou has only about 10 percent of Burkina Faso's
population, which he compared to the almost 40 percent that
Dakar represents in Senegal. In order to keep
urbanization under control, he said, will take
decentralization and economic development in rural areas.
In particular he stressed the need to build schools and
provide other social services in order to keep people out
of the cities.



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Comment


--------------------------





8. (C/NF) Compaore clearly knows what resonates with the
United States and other international donors.
Internationally, it is to push for constitutional
government, elections and peace building, while on the
domestic front it includes democratization, good
governance, institution building and land reform. It is
unclear how much he has truly taken ownership of these
issues, but he is at ease discussing them and certainly
gives the impression that he is fully convinced that the
future belongs to democratic governments that have the
support of the international community and especially the
United States.

JACKSON