Burkina Faso held local elections Sunday seen as a key step in the country’s transition to democracy from the authoritarian rule of ousted strongman Blaise Compaore. Some 24,000 police and troops were on duty for voting day, which had initially been scheduled for January 31 but was postponed following January 15 jihadist attacks that killed 30 people in Ouagadougou. Polls closed at 6:00 pm (1800 GMT) after an election which went off without incident and results are expected to be known by the end of the coming week. Some 5.5 million people were eligible to cast ballots to elect around 20,000 municipal councillors, who will then choose mayors for 368 towns. More than 80 parties put up candidates.
Roch Marc Kabore, the former prime minister of Burkina Faso, has been named the winner of the nation’s first presidential election since a coup earlier this year. Kabore, who served under ousted president Blaise Compaore, will become the country’s first new leader in decades, the Independent National Electoral Commission said on Tuesday. His victory represents a pivotal moment for the west African nation, which has been ruled by leaders who came to power in coups for most of its history since independence from France in 1960. Kabore was also president of the National Assembly under Compaore, who was toppled by an uprising in October 2014 after 27 years in power. He broke with Compaore early last year and formed an opposition party.
Burkina Faso voted Sunday in the first election since mass protests last year forced Blaise Compaore to step down as president after ruling Africa’s fourth-biggest gold producer for almost three decades. About 5 million people were eligible to cast ballots in both presidential and legislative elections. Twelve hours of voting ended about 6 p.m. local time, and officials began counting the ballots Sunday night. Results could be announced in a few days. Most polling stations opened on time and no incidents were reported, Cecile Kyenge, head of the European Union observer mission, said in an interview.
In Burkina Faso, electoral observers are readying themselves for this weekend’s landmark polls. Codel, a grouping of civil society organisations, is deploying some 5,000 observers to monitor elections temporarily derailed by a failed coup attempt in September. The polls are seen as key to the country’s transition to democracy following last year’s ousting of strongman Blaire Compaore. “We’ve living in a very extraordinary time in Burkina,” Ismael Diallo, a member of Codel’s expert committee, told RFI. “This is the first time in more than 30 years that we don’t know who’ll be president.”
On Sunday, 29 November, around 5.5 million people are expected at the polls in Burkina Faso to elect the next president and the 127 members of Parliament. These elections, the first after the ousting of former president Blaise Compaoré, will see 14 presidential candidates and 6 944 Parliamentary candidates vie for top spots in the country’s leadership. The current mind-set among most Burkinabes is a mixture of hope and anxiety. The electoral process, which was interrupted following the attempted coup d’état of 16 September 2015, was meant to end with elections initially scheduled for 11 October. Although some voters seem to have lost faith in the power of the ballot as a means to express and realise their expectations, many remain hopeful that these elections could mark the beginning of long-awaited change. The polls will certainly be a test for the country’s democratic maturity.
In the aftermath of the failed coup in Burkina Faso, questions are being raised on how to get the electoral process on track again and whether members of the former ruling party will take part. But the streets of Burkina Faso’s capital city, Ouagadougou, are busy again as people try to move on from the events of September 16, which paralyzed all economic activity for a week. Saidou Zangre reopened his clothes shop Saturday. “The recovery can’t be automatic,” he said. “It is also our role to come back into the city center and show people that it’s OK, that there is no problem anymore.”
Burkina Faso: As president retakes office following coup deal, Burkina Faso now looks to rescue election | AFP
Burkina Faso’s interim President Michel Kafando said Wednesday he has resumed his duties a week after being overthrown in a coup by the west African country’s presidential guard. “Thus the transition has been restored and this very minute I am resuming the exercise of power,” Kafando told reporters. Earlier, the coup’s leaders had agreed to return to their barracks and restore the deposed president to power, signing a deal with the army that apparently defuses a tense standoff sparked by last week’s putsch. The breakthrough came late Tuesday after marathon talks in Nigeria’s Abuja, where west African heads of state had sought to break the impasse fuelled by angry threats on both sides.
New and more inclusive elections in November have been proposed as military leaders said the general behind the coup will lead the country during the transitional period. The proposed plan will be taken up Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria, by West African member states of the regional bloc known as Ecowas. The announcement by Senegal’s President Macky Sall comes after a day fraught with tensions that began with an attack by pro-coup demonstrators and elite presidential guard soldiers on the hotel hosting the talks. Earlier in the day, angry protesters had clashed outside the hotel where negotiations were taking place, with some shouting: “No to Diendere! No to military rule!”
Mediators in Burkina Faso’s political crisis proposed new and more inclusive elections in November, though the military that seized power in a coup last week indicated Sunday it still wants its general to lead the country during any transitional period. That could prove to be a serious sticking point after a draft agreement was released late Sunday following two days of talks led by the presidents of Senegal and Benin. The proposed plan will be taken up Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria, by West African member states of the regional bloc known as ECOWAS. Senegalese President Macky Sall, who helped lead the weekend talks, said the draft was the result of discussions with all parties. “We have two ways out here: The first one is through peace…that will lead to an end of the crisis through fair and democratic elections,” Mr. Sall said, adding that the other route would lead to “chaos.”
Burkina Faso installed Monday a new election commission after the previous one was dismissed amid criticism over November elections that handed President Blaise Compaore a large victory. The newly composed Independent National Electoral Commission will have to organise next year’s municipal and legislative elections amid unprecedented tensions which have seen military mutinies and other unrest this year.
“We are a bit late as regards the elections so we are going to immediately … get to work,” the new head of the 15-member commission, Barthelemy Kere, told reporters. This would start with proposing a timetable for the elections due next year.
Burkina Faso’s government will dismiss the country’s electoral commission following the June 8 resignation from the panel by representatives from opposition parties, said Jerome Bougouma, minister of territorial administration and security.
Benewende Stanislas Sanakra, an opposition leader who lost a presidential election to incumbent Blaise Compaore in November, has been calling for the resignation of the commission’s members since that vote, alleging fraud.
The government “could not remain indifferent” to the demands for the panel’s dismissal, Bougouma told reporters in Ouagadougou, the capital, today. The state will introduce a bill at the National Assembly to approve the resignation, he said.