Georgia Center for Continuing Education, Master Hall

Zéphirin Diabré, opposition leader in the Parliament, former presidential candidate of Burkina Faso, former deputy administrator of the U.N. Development Program and visiting Harvard scholar will be give a lecture titled "Contesting Constitutional Change and Restoring Democracy in Burkina Faso." Hosted by the African Studies Institute.

Zéphirin Diabré hails from the village of Foungou in the department of Gomboussougou in Zoundwéogo province of Burkina Faso. He had his education in the French southwestern city of Bordeaux where he studied in the Business School and the faculty of Economics and Management at the University of Bordeaux. In 1987, he obtained his doctorate in management science and was appointed an assistant professor of management at the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. In 1989, he joined the private sector as the Deputy Director of the Breweries of Burkina (Sobbra) within the French group Castel. He was elected into the National Assembly in 1992 under the auspices of the Organization for Popular Democracy/Labor Movement (ODP/MT). Shortly after his election, he was appointed as a minister in the government of Prime Minister Yousuf Ouédraogo. He will go on to serve as the Minister of Industry, Trade and Mining (1992-1994), Minister of Economy and Finance (1994-1996), and President of the Economic and Social Council (1996-1997).     

After his re-election in 1996, Zéphirin Diabré resigned from the government due to differences with the ruling party and relocated to the United States. He joined Harvard University as a research professor in the Harvard Institute for International Development. (HIID). At HIID, he worked on the research team of the world famous economist, Jeffrey Sachs focusing on the future of African Economies. On 15 January 1999, he was appointed deputy director general of United Nations Development Program (UNDP) by Kofi Annan, then Secretary General of the United Nations. In February 2006, Zéphirin Diabré left the UNDP and joined the AREVA group as the Chairman of the Africa and Middle East Regions, International and Marketing Department. He also served as the advisor on international affairs to the group’s President. In 2011, he left the group and settled as an international consultant in the field of mining finance. 

In May 2009, Zéphirin Diabré, organized a forum in Ouagadougou on the alternations, in Burkina Faso. Resulting from this forum, the Union for Progress and Change (UPC) was established on March 1st, 2010. Under his chairmanship, UPC would become an influential opposition party with a mission of campaigning for democratic change in Burkina Faso. In the legislative and municipal elections of December 2, 2012, UPC secured 19 parliamentary seats, 19 mayoral positions and 1,600 municipal councilor seats. With these results, Zéphirin Diabré emerged as the formal leader of the opposition in Burkina Faso.  In this capacity, he led the mobilization of the political and civil society opposition for the popular uprising in October 2014 that led to the fall of Blaise Compaoré, self-proclaimed “King of Burkina Faso.” On June 28, 2015, Zéphirin Diabré became the UPC candidate in the presidential elections of November 2015 but would emerge as the runner up to eventual president, Rock Mark Christian Kaboré.