Burkina Faso

[ber-kee-nuh fah-soh]
formerly Upper Volta

Country, West Africa. A landlocked country, it lies south of the Sahara Desert. Area: 103,456 sq mi (267,950 sq km). Population (2005 est.): 13,492,000. Capital: Ouagadougou. Ethnic groups are the Mossi, Hausa, Fulani, Mande, Bobo, and Senufo. Languages: French (official), Mossi, Dyula, Fula. Religions: Islam, traditional beliefs, Christianity. Currency: CFA franc. Burkina Faso consists of an extensive plateau characterized by a savanna, grassy in the north and sparsely forested in the south. The plateau is notched by the valleys of the Mouhoun (Black Volta), Nazinon (Red Volta), and Nakanbe rivers, which flow south into Ghana. The economy is largely agricultural. Burkina Faso is a republic with one legislative body; its chief of state is the president and its head of government the prime minister. Probably in the 14th century, the Mossi and Gurma peoples established themselves in eastern and central areas. The Mossi kingdoms of Yatenga and Ouagadougou existed into the early 20th century. A French protectorate was established over the region (1895–97), and its southern boundary was demarcated through an Anglo-French agreement. It was part of the Upper Senegal–Niger (see Mali) colony, then became a separate colony in 1919. It was constituted an overseas territory within the French Union in 1947, became an autonomous republic within the French Community in 1958, and achieved total independence in 1960. Since then it has been ruled primarily by the military and has experienced several coups; the country received its present name in 1984. A new constitution, adopted in 1991, restored multiparty rule; elected government returned in the 1990s. Economic problems plagued the country at the beginning of the 21st century.

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The African Democratic Rally (Rassemblement Démocratique Africain) is a political party in Burkina Faso. It was originally known as the Voltaic Democratic Union-African Democratic Rally (UDV-RDA) and was formed in 1957 as the Voltaic section of the African Democratic Rally (RDA).

Soon after Independence in 1960, UDV-RDA became the only legal political party in Upper Volta and a civilian dictatorship was set up. In 1966, there was a military coup to overthrow the government, and the UDV-RDA didn't exist in the new government. Under the rule of Sangoulé Lamizana UDV-RDA was reconstructed and developed good relations with the government. The relation to Lamizana did however cause internal dissent. The pro-Lamizana faction was led by Prime Minister Joseph Conombo and the anti-Lamizana faction was led by Joseph Ouédrago.

At the time of the presidential and legislative elections 1978 UDV-RDA had one list for legislative but the different factions supported different presidential candidates. The party officially supported Lamizana's candidature. The dissidents, grouped as the 'Rejectors Front-RDA' (Front du Réfus-RDA) supported the candidature of Joseph Ouédrago. After the elections this faction split away and joined the Voltaic Progressive Front of Joseph Ki-Zerbo.

After the elections Lamizana joined the party. The party was also joined by the National Union of Independents (UNI) and the African Regroupment Party (PRA), which lost their status as political parties following the elections (the 1977 Constitution limited the number of political parties to three, and PRA and UNI were the parties that came 4th and 5th thus losing their legal status).

When Lamizana was overthrown in 1980, military rule was reinstituted, and the RDA never returned to power.

Nowadays it is part of the Alliance for Democracy and Federation-African Democratic Rally (Alliance pour la Démocratie et la Fédération-Rassemblement Démocratique Africain), the largest of the many opposition parties in Burkina Faso.

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