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Upholding Democratic Principles in Burkina Faso



As U.S. ambassador to

Burkina Faso, Tulinabo

Mushingi earned the moni-

ker “Sid Pawalamde,”which

means “truth is not whis-

pered” in Mooré, the local


In 2014, Amb. Mushingi

publicly voiced opposition to

a constitutional amendment,

proposed by the ruling party,

which would allow then-

President Blaise Compaoré

to extend his 27-year rule. By

communicating the policies

of the U.S. government clearly

and consistently in public and

private speeches and on social

media, and by demonstrat-

ing the principles of good

governance in their day-to-day

activities, Amb. Mushingi and

the staff of American Embassy

Ouagadougou supported the

Burkinabe people in their

efforts to oust a dictator.

Insisting that Burkina

Faso needed “strong institu-

tions, not strongmen,”Amb.

Mushingi called for nonvio-

lence and a peaceful transfer

of power as protests in the

country became an uprising in

October 2014. Facing mount-

ing pressure from civilian

protesters, Compaoré fled the

country and members of the

military took power.

Amb. Mushingi called on

the military figures in charge

to hand over power to civilian

authorities, to reinstate the

constitution, and to hold free

elections. By mid-November

2014, a civilian-led tran-

sitional government was

in power, and elections

were set for November


As the Burkinabe

people began to pre-

pare for elections, Amb.

Mushingi continued to

meet and engage with

the different communi-

ties in the country, using

his car as a mobile

office to keep in touch

when traveling.

During this time,

according to his nomi-

nation, Amb. Mushingi

was “approached

constantly by people

thanking him for being

‘their voice’.”

On Sept. 16, 2015,

only two months before

the election, the Presidential

Security Regiment staged

a coup d’état, holding the

interim president and prime

minister hostage.

Amb. Mushingi condemned

the takeover and called for the

immediate reinstatement of

the transitional government.

He met with Prime Minister

Zida, then under house arrest,

and tweeted a “proof-of-life”

picture, reassuring the public

and preventing many from

taking to the streets seeking


Demonstrating his

profound respect for the

democratic process, Amb.

Mushingi also helped prevent

Ouagadougou and then

working with a former

president of Burkina Faso,

the papal ambassador and

a cardinal to negotiate his

surrender and fair trial.

Recognizing the

importance of legitimate

elections at this stage,

Amb. Mushingi renewed

calls to carry on with the

vote, never wavering,

even as other diplomats

discussed a delay.

On Nov. 29, 2015, free

and transparent elections

were held and, one month

later, the new president

took office. This marked

the first-ever peaceful

transfer of power from

one civilian president to

another in Burkina Faso.

Amb. Mushingi began

his diplomatic career work-

ing for the U.S. Peace Corps

in Papua NewGuinea, the

Democratic Republic of Congo,

Niger and the Central Afri-

can Republic. He joined the

U.S. Foreign Service in 1989

and has served in Malaysia,

Mozambique, Morocco, Tan-

zania, Zambia and Ethiopia,

as well asWashington, D.C. He

received an M.A. fromHoward

University and a Ph.D. from

Georgetown University. Since

leaving Burkina Faso, he has

been confirmed by the Senate

as ambassador to Senegal

and, concurrently, ambassador

to Guinea-Bissau.


Ambassador Mushingi reads to

students at a school outside of

Ouagadougou. Amb. Mushingi often

travelled in intense heat to visit

communities throughout Burkina

Faso and tell them about the United


Following an attempted coup in September

2015, Ambassador Talinabo Mushingi sought

an audience with deposed Prime Minister Isaac

Zida, who was then under house arrest. The

embassy tweeted a “proof-of-life” image, which

helped prevent violence in the streets. The text

reads: “I have just met with Prime Minister Zida,

and I can assure you that he is well.”



the extrajudicial killing of the

leader of the coup, first by

securing sanctuary for him

with the Vatican’s embassy in