Burkina Faso: Change is the Song as Citizens Head to the Polls

Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kabore arrives at the airport for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) consultative meeting in Accra, Ghana September 15, 2020. REUTERS/ Francis Kokoroko

On Sunday 22nd of November, the people of Burkina Faso will head to the polls, looking to stick to the old guard or elect a new leadership.

The last five years in the West African country have been marred with insecurity challenges- from terrorism to kidnapping and humanitarian problems.

An endless rise in the activities of Jihadist groups and proliferation of defence militias has seen at least one million Burkinabés displaced with million others in extreme hunger.

In 2015, People’s Movement for Progress (MPP), Marc Christian Kaboré was voted as President, after citizens saw to the exit of former leader, Blaise Compaoré over insecurity and bad governance. Majority of the issues that existed then still persist, although there have been improvements in a few critical areas.

Kabore’s main challengers are; 61-year-old Union for Progress and Change (UPC) party candidate and runner-up in the 2015 election, Zephirin Diabre, and Eddie Komboigo from the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), Compaoré’s party. Both candidates have been tipped by political analysts in the country to have about 30% of the total votes each.

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While the incumbent President has been far from impressive, going by the local perception, he stands the best chance of retaining the presidential seat.

New Electoral Laws And Voter Disenfranchisement

Burkina Faso’s insecurity issues have ensured that one thousand three hundred and thirty-four (1334) of the nation’s almost 22,000 polling stations will not be operating during the elections.

New electoral laws have approved that votes can be counted even if half of registered voters don’t turn up for the elections. As it stands, at least 1/5th of voters will not cast their ballot at the elections due to jihadist attacks in northern and eastern parts of the West African country.

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It is still unclear if the over one million displaced persons will have a chance to vote during the elections.

Zéphirin Diabré (Centre right) of the UPC is one of Kabore’s main challengers

Calm Amid A Storm

The current security tension in the country has led to a clear reversal from the norm.

Loud music, often seen as an integral part of political campaigns have been off the streets and the 13 Presidential candidates have also gone about their calls for support without violence.

From capital city Ouagadougou to other parts of the country where Jihadists haven’t held sway, citizens are looking to make a difference, either by sticking to the current President and hoping for an improved second term, or voting him out of office.

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Kaboré hopes to win without going through a run-off but Burkinabes have a final say over who they want to spearhead the change they so much desire.

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