Christmas is Coming, the Harmattan is Already Here, and the Legislature is Forming

Out for a ride today around the reservoir and I got these shots of what the sky looks like when the harmattan winds are blowing off the Sahara:

Harmattan 1

Harmattan 2

You can compare these with the shots of the same reservoir taken a week or so ago (“The Calm Before The Storm?”) when the sky was beautiful and blue. Now, if you look up, you might catch a glimpse of dirty blue.

This is winter weather in Burkina. The Inter-Tropical Discontinuity is way down south, following the sun, and dumping rain on southern Angola, Namibia and Zambia. Up here, the wind from the Sahara is carrying dust into the upper atmosphere, south and west. When the harmattan is really strong, the air gets dusty as far away as the nordeste in Brazil and the Windward Islands in the Caribbean.

If it’s winter, Christmas must be close. I went to the expat supermarket today, and they have their Christmas decorations up. This is nothing new to my American readers, who have been listening to “The Little Drummer Boy” in supermarkets since approximately August, but here in the majority Muslim Sahel, it is kind of odd to see fake Christmas trees with fake snow on them twinkling away. I have yet to buy any Christmas presents for anybody.

And back home, the legislative session usually begins after Christmas. Here too, there will be a new legislature soon. I rode by the legislature building today. It was burned down in the uprising of 2014 and has sat, growing mold, for a year. Now, they had barricades out front and maybe there will be some construction. Given the scale of destruction, I can’t see them having the place ready for occupancy by January 3rd, but at least they can get all the burned-out cars out of the parking lot and pretty things up a bit. Or maybe the barricades are just to fence it off so it doesn’t look bad on the TV when they have the presidential inauguration parade out front. There were some bleachers going up along the street as well.

The legislative elections are over and the results published (talk about burying the lede…). The MPP, the party of Roch Kaboré, has 55 seats out of 127. For the math-challenged, that’s 9 seats short of a majority. The principal opposition, the UPC, has 33 seats, and the former ruling party, the CDP, has 18. Apparently, there was a good deal of ticket-splitting going on, in answer to my question from my last post. The CDP has already said they aren’t allying with the MPP under any circumstances (though who knows what offers might be made). The UPC will presumably be the leader of the opposition unless Roch tries for some form of cohabitation. Leaving a collection of small parties with anything from 5 votes (the Sankaristes, seemingly ideologically unlikely to vote with the MPP) down to be collected by the MPP. I had dinner tonight in a restaurant down the street from the Prime Minister’s office, and the party at the next table were apparently MPP deputies. They were having a very enlightening conversation, partly in French, suggesting that they don’t know where their extra 9 votes are coming from. I have even more trouble seeing where the UPC can get enough votes to form a government, since I can’t see them cooperating officially with the CDP. The UPC’s legitimacy springs from their being the opposition to the CDP during the days of Compaoré. Forming a coalition government with them seems too much out of character. I can only assume that all sorts of bribes, er, excuse me, power-sharing arrangements are being dangled in front of those small parties to get them into the MPP fold and sometime in the next couple of days we will have the announcement of a coalition government headed by the MPP.

And then they have to actually govern. The people here have a lot of expectations. “Nothing will ever be the same again” they said after October 2014. If it starts looking like “hail to the new boss, same as the old boss” there might well be some confusion.


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