Burkina Faso Votes Under Looming Threat Of Violence

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OUAGADOUGOU: Burkina Faso goes to the polls on Sunday in an election dominated by jihadist violence, which has claimed the lives of more than 2,000 people this year and will prevent voting in hundreds of villages.

President Roch Kaboré is seeking a second five-year term, campaigning on achievements, including free health care for children under five, and opening some of the red dirt roads that meander through through this arid West African country.

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 in the east last year killed 39 people.

“I like Kaboré, but he did not manage the security situation. The north has been forgotten, there is no government authority there, ”said Tiadiane Bonkoungou, who sells blankets and curtains at a market stall in Ouagadougou.

Kaboré faces stiff opposition from former finance minister Zephirin Diabré, vice-champion in 2015, and Eddie Komboigo, who heads the party of Blaise Campaoré, the 27-year-old president who was ousted in 2014. analysts expect a close race that could go as far as a second round if no candidate wins more than 50%.

The provisional results of the first round are expected in the middle of the week.

At a press conference on Saturday, Diabré said the president was orchestrating “massive fraud” ahead of the vote, without providing any evidence.

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.

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