Bringing Community Advocates into Local Elections

We raised awareness with chiefs and religious leaders so that they would not be key actors of the political parties but rather actors for the civilians leading up to and during elections. Our cooperation with PDev II surrounded the municipal, presidential and legislative elections. We raised awareness with chiefs and religious leaders so that they would not be key actors of the political parties but rather actors for the civilians leading up to and during elections.
— Professor Albert Ouedraogo at the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Albert Ouedraogo, a Professor of African Oral Literature at the University of Ouagadougou, , Burkina Faso is also Secretary General of the Association RACINES pour la Promotion et la Rehabilitation des Traditions Orales, “ROOTS, for the Promotion and Rehabilitation of Oral Traditions,” which engaged with PDev II on electoral related activities. RACINES raised awareness in various regions of Burkina including a workshop in Ouagadougou where the initiatives were well received. They also organized workshops on the role of chieftaincy in the democratic process.

The 2014 book Démocratie et Cheffocratie ou la Quête d'une Gouvernance Apaisée or “Democracy and Chieftaincy or the Quest for Calm Governance” was produced in Burkina Faso because society tends to ignore traditions and chiefs. Chiefs had begun to enter into politics and the result was a division in society. According to Albert, “Chiefs are generally ignored in society; they are called on during crisis, for mediation or during elections for favors.” Realizing that certain Chiefs were engaging more in the political process, RACINES carried out a study to see what the population thought of the engagement of Chiefs in politics.

After they gathered research from talking to people in the community, they analyzed the results and concluded that Chiefs need to maintain a neutral position in the political affairs of society. Albert stated, “At the same time, we had to take into account [Chiefs’] role in society and give them a clear role in the Republic but also ensure that there is a level of accountability between their role and the actions they take.” He went on to say, “To implement these steps will be a long process, but we hope to undertake it in the future.”

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