Burkina Faso elections marred by violence

OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINA FASO (AP) – Voters went to the polls in Burkina Faso yesterday for presidential and legislative elections that have been marred by ongoing extremist violence in this landlocked West African nation.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore (pic below) has promised to secure the country and is vying for another five years against 12 other candidates. Kabore is expected to win, but the opposition hopes to split the vote, depriving the president of the 51 per cent support needed for an outright victory in the first round, and then form a coalition behind the strongest candidate for round two.

On Saturday, opposition candidates accused the ruling party of fraud, including bribing people. The parties also accused The National Independent Electoral Commission of making changes to the electoral map, Zephirin Diabre, a leading candidate from the Progress and Change Party, told a press conference.

He’s one of the frontrunners, together with Eddie Komboigo, head of the Congress for Democracy and Progress, the party of former President Blaise Compaore, who was ousted by a popular uprising in 2014.

Burkina Faso experts said a failure to hold peaceful and transparent elections will reinforce extremist messages that governments across the region are ineffective.

Crisis rooms have been set up around the city, where organisations can monitor the voting to check for irregularities, voter suppression and violence, according to a spokesperson for Codel, a local organisation focussed on elections. They were not authorised to speak to the media by name.