Michel Kafando (born 18 August 1942) is a Burkinabé diplomat who served as the transitional President of Burkina Faso from 2014 to 2015. He served in the government as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1982 to 1983 and was the Permanent Representative (Ambassador) of Burkina Faso to the United Nations from 1998 to 2011.
Following the resignation of President Blaise Compaoré amidst mass protests on 31 October 2014, Kafando was chosen to serve as President during a year-long transitional period leading to the next election. He was sworn in on 18 November 2014.
Kafando was briefly ousted by the Regiment of Presidential Security in a September 2015 coup, but he was restored to power within a week.
Kafando was born in Ouagadougou. He attained a bachelor's degree in public law from the University of Bordeaux in 1969, a diploma in political studies in 1972 in Paris and another diploma from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva also in 1972. He later gained a PhD in political science at the Sorbonne in 1990. He is married, and has one child.
Michel Kafando was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Upper Volta (as Burkina Faso was then known) from 1982 to 1983, becoming the only cabinet member to retain his portfolio after the November 1982 coup of Major Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo. He was also a Vice-President of the United Nations General Assembly in 1982. He headed many delegations to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and was Vice-President of the African Centre for Environmental Protection (an NGO).
He served as Upper Volta's Permanent Representative to the UN and as its Ambassador to Cuba before being appointed as Permanent Representative to the UN for a second time; he presented his credentials to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, on 15 April 1998.
Kafando was President of the United Nations Security Council in September 2008 and in December 2009.
On 5 May 2017, Michel Kafando was appointed Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General. As Special Envoy he will be involved in promoting peace in Burundi and political dialogue in the East African Community.
Long-time President Blaise Compaore was forced to resign on 31 October 2014 due to unrest related to his moves to eliminate term limits so that he could run for President again. Initially, the military under Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida took power, but it faced international pressure to hand over power to civilian authorities. On 17 November 2014, Kafando was appointed as transitional President of Burkina Faso by the designation council. He was sworn in on 18 November 2014, and he appointed Zida as Prime Minister on 19 November. In the transitional government, appointed on 23 November, Kafando held the foreign affairs portfolio.
On 19 July 2015, amidst tensions between the military and Prime Minister Zida, Kafando stripped Zida of the defense portfolio and took over the portfolio himself. He also took over the security portfolio, previously held by Zida's ally Auguste Denise Barry. As part of the same reshuffle, he appointed Moussa Nébié to replace himself as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
On 16 September 2015, two days after a recommendation from the National Reconciliation and Reforms Commission to disband the Regiment of Presidential Security (RSP), members of the RSP detained President Kafando and Prime Minister Zida. The military chief of staff, Brigadier General Pingrenoma Zagré, called on members of the RSP to lay down their arms, promising in a statement that they would not be harmed if they surrendered peacefully.
Kafando was believed to remain under house arrest until 21 September, when he was reported to have arrived at the residence of the French ambassador. The regular army issued an ultimatum to the RSP to surrender by the morning of 22 September. Kafando was reinstalled as President at a ceremony on 23 September in the presence of ECOWAS leaders.