On Wednesday April 17, I had the opportunity to sit down with Marcel Yameogo, a graduate student of Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy & International Relations. Mr. Yameogo is not your ordinary graduate student; he is the national General Secretary for the Congress for Democracy and Progress Party (CDP) in his home country of Burkina Faso. In addition, he is a candidate for the 2020 Burkina Faso presidential elections.
The meeting was a casual conversation in the Walsh library where I met the candidate along with two of his campaign advisors. Mr. Yameogo radiates charisma and holds great confidence on the path for change in Burkina Faso. Among his leading remarks, a primary goal in his education and politics career is “to change the social democracy for liberalism,” in Burkina Faso.
Mr. Yameogo spoke passionately about current events in his country, especially concerning terrorism. Its rise, along with increasing bureaucracy incompetency in recent years, have left the citizens with no choice but to join the side where their personal needs can be met. Specifically, in rural areas, poverty levels are on the rise and resource accessibility is faltering. Terrorist groups have begun using these conditions to their advantage by attracting people to join their organizations.
Mr. Yameogo comes from a political background. His grandfather was the first president of Burkina Faso after the country’s independence in 1960. Through this relationship, Mr. Yameogo was exposed to an atmosphere of political dialogue early in life. In high school, he was elected president of the student association in his hometown of Koudougou. There, he began leading a push for developing the local educational system.
This was just the start of his political career; one major involvement that shaped Mr. Yameogo’s mindset for years to come was his experience as the president of the country’s national youth movement. This allowed him to become better acquainted to federal authorities in Burkina Faso and push the importance of youth’s involvement in politics overall.
By this early exposure to politics, as well as his close-knit relationship with the nation’s youth, his campaign focuses predominantly on the grassroots level, where he and his team hope to reach out to as many voters as possible. The effectiveness of this process relies heavily on Mr. Yameogo’s ability to connect with common individuals, an area in which he believes he is succeeding.
By using the strategy of grassroots exposure, Mr. Yameogo strongly believes that with a rising education rate, Burkina Faso will prosper. He hopes that increased education will alter the minds of citizens towards terrorist groups and their malicious recruitment operations.
He also understands that reaching out to his citizens is not enough, he must work with other African leaders, as it is crucial for stabilizing the region against physical conflict. As Burkina Faso shares a border with six other states, occasional conflict appears inevitable because of competing regional interests.
On this point, Mr. Yameogo emphasized the notion of cooperation to find common interests among the leaders of all states. The domestic interests of individual nations must be met before they all can work together for a common goal. It is a game of give and take while maintaining one’s respective principles.
In terms of Burkina Faso’s financial development, Mr. Yameogo’s vision is based on classical economic liberalism. “I will make sure that we have strong institutions, and this fact will lead me to contact international organizations aligned with Burkina Faso’s law and orders, and I will not violate any laws domestically or internationally.”
Furthermore, he would also like to implement an effective domestic sustainable economic plan involving multinational corporations and NGOs along with strong institutions where corruption would be strongly opposed and eliminated. If the interests of the corporations are not closely aligned to those of Burkina Faso, there will be no business be made as it is not for the greater good of the country.
In working with corporations and NGOs, Mr. Yameogo hopes to find the “position where and how we all can cooperate.”