The West African nation of Upper Volta has been celebrating its seventeenth anniversary of independence from France.
The West African nation of Upper Volta has been celebrating its seventeenth anniversary of independence from France. Among the festivities was formal ceremony in the Place d'Independence in Ouagadougou, the nation's capital, presided over by President Sangoule Lamizana.
SYNOPSIS: The country received its independence in August 1960, together with the most of France's African empire along the West Coast. General Lamizana himself took over in January 1966, as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the armed forces, when the military overthrow the civilian government of President Maurice Yameogo, who's led the country since independence. The first government was autocratic in style, making other political parties illegal shortly after independence. There was a growing disillusionment with the government as the economy, already poor, declined even further. A single-party election in 1965 gave President Yameogo's government 99 per cent of the popular vote, but shortly afterwards opposition erupted in the streets of the capital. Civil servants and trade unionists had been alarmed by proposed austerity measures which would have cut their salaries, and found allies among radical students who opposed the nation's continuing economic dependence on France. The army intervened the following year, and General Lamizana has remained in power.
To mark anniversary, medals were awarded to military and government personnel, and ordinary civilians. Since President Lamizana has been in power, one civilian government was formed but quickly collapsed.