Re-named in 1984 to Burkina Faso (“land of the upright/honest people”), the country gained independence from France in 1960. President Blaise Compaoré ruled the country from 1987 and was ousted in October 2014 by a popular youth protest movement. Lt. Col. Isaac Zida has said he will lead the country until a planned 2015 presidential election but there are concerns over his close ties to the former president.

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Constitution and government

Burkina Faso is a secular state and its constitution and other laws and policies protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The constitution guarantees the right to choose and change one’s religion and to practice the religion of one’s choice. The possibility of constitutional reform has been discussed in connection with the protests that overthrew the president in October 2014.

The constitution guarantees the right to assemble as well as freedom of association.

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

Freedom of expression is constitutionally guaranteed and there is strong, independent media. However, journalists occasionally face criminal libel prosecutions, death threats, and other forms of harassment and intimidation. In October 2012, two journalists at the private weekly L’Ouragan were sentenced to 12 months in prison for defamation, and their paper was suspended for six months, for publishing allegations of corruption against the state prosecutor’s office. The government does not restrict internet access.