OUAGADOUGOU: Voters went to the polls in Burkina Faso on Sunday in a presidential election dominated by jihadist violence that has claimed the lives of more than 2,000 people this year and will prevent voting in hundreds of villages.
President Roch Kabore is seeking a second five-year term, campaigning on achievements such as free health care for children under five and opening some of the red dirt roads that wind through the arid country of West Africa.
But a wave of attacks by groups with ties to militant al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups has overshadowed everything else. Three weeks after his inauguration, the regional branch of al-Qaeda attacked a hotel and cafe in the capital, killing 32 people. An ambush against miners from the east last year killed 39 people.
After having voted in a school in Ouagadougou, the journalists from Kaboré: “I call on all Burkinabè to vote, whatever their tendency. It is a question of democracy in Burkina Faso, of development, of peace. “
Streets in the capital were quiet after polling stations opened at 6 a.m. (6 a.m. GMT) and there were no immediate reports of voting disruptions from elsewhere in the country.
The electoral commission said polling stations would remain closed in much of the north and east for fear of violence.
At least 400,000 people – nearly 7% of the electorate – will not be able to vote, according to official data.
“We need someone who will bring peace to our country. The president needs a second term to end what has started, ”said Maimouna Tapsoba, a 59-year-old secretary, after voting in Ouagadougou.
Kabore faces strong opposition from former finance minister and 2015 finalist Zephirin Diabre as well as Eddie Komboigo, leader of Blaise Campaore’s party. Campaore was president for 27 years until the 2014 revolution.
Analysts expect a close race that could go as far as a second round if no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote.
The provisional results of the first round are expected in the middle of the week.
At a press conference on Saturday, Diabre said the president was orchestrating “massive fraud” ahead of the vote, without providing any evidence.
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