The volatile West African nation of Burkina Faso is preparing to elect a president and parliament on Nov. 22, in a climate of growing insecurity.
The poll is regarded as the country’s most democratic and competitive to date, with 13 candidates vying for the presidency, including one woman.
The outcome of elections in Burkina Faso used to be fairly predictable for the almost three decades that former president Blaise Compaore was in power, between 1987 and 2015.
But Compaore was forced to step down after a failed coup attempt in 2015, after which incumbent President Roch Kabore took over the highest office.
Kabore, who leads the ruling People’s Movement for Progress (MPP), is deemed to be the strongest contestant in the 2020 poll, though insecurity and terrorism have cost him popular support and bolstered his opponents.
Kabore, who calls himself a “man of his word,” pledges to build on his achievements of the past five years if re-elected.
He introduced free health care for women and children under five during his first term in office, which has gained him substantial support.
He promises to keep investing in infrastructure, especially the country’s poor road network, and create 600,000 jobs each year with focus on the nation’s youth.
But the 63-year-old social democrat faces two serious challengers: Zephirin Diabre, who heads opposition party Union for Progress and Change (UPC) and Eddie Komboigo, the leader of the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), the party of former president Compaore.
Kabore’s key rival, Diabre, is a 61-year-old former finance minister.
As a technocrat and intellectual, he also held positions at the UN, multi-national electricity giant AREVA and Harvard University.
Diabre, who founded the UPC in 2010, promises to reform agriculture and education as well as investment in infrastructure and employment, under the slogan of “Let’s save Burkina Faso.”
Kabore’s other main challenger, Komboigo, pledges to focus on national reconciliation in a country still divided since Compaore’s departure into exile, as well as economic recovery and youth employment.
The 56-year-old chartered accountant also promises to end the ongoing terrorism attacks by negotiating with the various Islamist groups based in the Sahel.
The increase in terrorism could indeed be incumbent Kabore’s biggest threat to re-election.
Burkina Faso’s security situation has deteriorated in the past five years, as Imilitant groups killed thousands of people and displaced almost a million others, according to the UN.
Experts believe it will be difficult for Kabore to reach the required 50 per cent of votes to win in the first round of elections on Nov. 22.
“Kabore’s party is not influential enough for him to win in the first round,” Siaka Coulibaly, president of the Centre for Citizen Observation and Analysis, said.
Kabore has lost trust and support due to the rising threat of terrorism but also due to frequent strikes and ongoing disagreements with labour unions, said Coulibaly.
The opposition meanwhile signed an agreement to jointly support whichever opposition candidate will compete against Kabore, should there be a second round.
Burkina Faso will also elect a new parliament on Nov. 22.
More than 10,000 candidates from 96 political parties and 30 independent groupings will be competing for 127 legislative seats.
The ruling MPP, which currently holds 55 seats, is expected to again secure the most votes, but fall short of gaining a majority in parliament.
Almost 6.5 million Burkinabe will cast their vote at more than 21,000 polling stations across the country between 8 am and 6 pm (0800 GMT and 1800 GMT).
Results are expected to be announced within two days. (dpa/NAN)
– Nov. 11, 2020 @ 13:22 GMT |