Elections in Burkina Faso: a double ballot under jihadist pressure

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

 

This Sunday, some 6.5 million Burkinabè are called to the polls to elect both their new president and their deputies. Until the last moment, the country will have vibrated to the rhythm of the campaign and the preparations. A total of 21,155 material kits, including ballots and minutes, were distributed. To organize these elections, the budget amounts to 90 billion CFA francs (13 million euros).

Thirteen candidates, including outgoing president Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, are in the running. Regarding the legislative elections, 96 parties, five political parties and 25 independent groups, or 10,652 candidates, will compete for the seats.

Place for voting day

In the capital Ouagadougou, several polling stations opened the doors at 5 a.m. GMT. “I came to vote early, at the opening, because I have some shopping to do later,” said Félix Ouédraogo, interviewed by Agence France-Presse in the queue of another office.

In Bobo-Dioulasso, economic capital in the west of the country, witnesses on the spot assured that the vote began in several offices with a few minutes late in certain neighborhoods.

The president of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni), Newton Ahmed Barry, explained that everything is being done to resolve the difficulties related to the start-up.

“I invite each Burkinabè to freely express their choice and to fulfill their civic duty by going to vote. With the entire Burkinabè political class, we have worked to ensure that this republican exercise is transparent, fair and fair, ”the outgoing President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré wrote very early in the morning on Twitter.

“If the vote should take place without too many hitches [à Ouagadougou], it will most certainly be disturbed in some rural areas, ”said the International Crisis Group (ICG).

In some places in the north of the country, “there is no election, and it is far from being the priority of the populations who first seek to avoid being killed”, underlines an observer from the region. from Dori (North).

Sub-regional organizations in particular, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), have already deployed observation missions with the essential objective of ensuring the smooth running of the electoral process with a view to a free, transparent and credible election. The Ceni assured that it will try to proclaim the first results of the ballot the day after the double ballot, on November 23, as was the case during the 2015 elections. An idea rejected by the political opposition which considers that proceed from the sort “is to run the risk of making mistakes and sowing the seeds of a post-election crisis”.

The most open election

Until the last moment, the opposition mounted the pressure, denouncing a “massive fraud” in preparation by the authorities and threatening not to recognize the results in the event of victory in the first round of outgoing President Kaboré. Opposition leader Zéphirin Diabré, the outgoing president’s main challenger, and five other candidates denounced during a press briefing in Ouagadougou fraud in the organization of the double presidential and legislative elections on Sunday. “It is clear that there is a great operation orchestrated by the power in place of a massive fraud to legitimize” a victory in the first round of President Kaboré, he declared, threatening not to “accept results tainted with irregularity ”.

“It is absolutely inconceivable, after having traveled all over Burkina Faso, to think of having a winning party from the first round”, he again hammered, with Eddie Komboïgo, candidate of the party of former President Blaise at his side. Compaoré and presented as the third man of the poll.

Blaise Compaoré’s Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), which was banned from voting in 2015, is indeed back, the former president seeming to benefit from a certain comeback in Burkinabè public opinion. . Since his fall in 2014, he has lived in exile in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), where Alassane Ouattara granted him Ivorian nationality.

The Kaboré clan promised, as in 2015, a victory in the first round of this election considered to be the most open in the history of Burkina, a very poor agricultural and mining country in West Africa, which has suffered multiple blows. State since its independence.

This poll is also unprecedented, since Burkinabè living abroad will be able to participate in the vote, thus, more than 23,000 Burkinabè will go to the polls, according to Ceni data compiled by the FasoCheck verification platform.

Kaboré in search of the “knockout blow”

A “one-shot KO” victory would allow Mr. Kaboré to avoid a second round against a candidate supported by the entire opposition, a “fear”, according to political science professor Drissa Traoré cited by Agence France -Hurry.

In 2015, the party “had achieved this feat [d’une victoire au premier tour], but it was mainly thanks to his kingsmaker ”, the late president of the presidential party Salif Diallo, renowned political strategist, who died in 2017. There was never a second round in a presidential election in Faso until present.

Friday, during his last campaign meeting, President Kaboré had mocked these accusations of fraud, already mentioned by Mr. Diabré: “How can we anticipate fraud? Asked the president in front of tens of thousands of activists.

He had mocked “those who do not even know how elections go”.

This rise in pressure on Saturday occurs after a campaign without real enthusiasm, apart from the meager excitement of the meetings where the presence of thousands of people was “motivated” by a small note, tell our colleagues from AFP.

Security is the major issue of elections

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday praised the “climate of mutual respect during the electoral process” as Burkina Faso lives its darkest hours since independence, undermined by attacks by jihadist groups that have killed at least 1,200 people in five years.

All of Burkina Faso is in the red zone for the Quai d’Orsay, with the exception of the capital.

The Kaboré presidency has not succeeded in halting this spiral since the first attacks in 2015. “The diagnosis was poor and the response was neither adequate nor appropriate,” said security specialist Mahamoudou Sawadogo.

In Burkina Faso, as in neighboring Mali and Niger, jihadist violence has also degenerated into intercommunal clashes. The confusion between the Fulani populations and jihadism is widespread. NGOs have denounced the massacres of Fulani civilians by pro-government militias or the army, and atrocities by one community lead to reprisals by the other.

The choice of all-security was made, but the Burkinabè army, poorly equipped and poorly trained, is going from loss to loss, despite some claimed success. The question of a possible dialogue with jihadist groups, very present in Mali, was debated during the campaign, President Kaboré being against, his challengers speaking out almost unanimously in favor.

One of the solutions proposed by the outgoing Head of State was the creation in early 2020 of village militias supervised by the State, the Volunteers for the Defense of the Fatherland (VDP).

Their role in securing this Sunday’s election remains unclear: the presidential party “could be accused of using its troops” to encourage Kaboré to vote, said a Western diplomatic source in Ouagadougou. Alongside this possible device, members of the security forces, the number of which has not been revealed, have been deployed throughout the country.

In the meantime, the number of people displaced by these attacks has increased exponentially in two years to reach one million, or 5% of the Burkinabè population, whole swathes of the territory beyond state control. The election will not be able to be held in at least a fifth of the territory, recognized the Constitutional Council, the fear of jihadist attacks on the day of the vote being in all minds.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.