By Daniel Finnan
In Burkina Faso, electoral observers are readying themselves for this weekend’s landmark polls. Codel, a grouping of civil society organisations, is deploying some 5,000 observers to monitor elections temporarily derailed by a failed coup attempt in September. The polls are seen as key to the country’s transition to democracy following last year’s ousting of strongman Blaire Compaore.
“We’ve living in a very extraordinary time in Burkina,” Ismael Diallo, a member of Codel’s expert committee, told RFI. “This is the first time in more than 30 years that we don’t know who’ll be president.”
INTERVIEW: ISMAEL DIALLO, CODEL
Codel hopes to ensure that the election is transparent and produces results acceptable to all parties. It has set up five permanent offices and 45 focal points across the country from which to manage a team of 5,000 observers.
Observers will monitor the situation at various polling stations and report via text message on questions such as staffing and electoral materials. These reports will be collated by a 50-strong team at Codel headquarters who will flag potential issues or problems that need to be dealt with.
Action on fraudulent activity or problems on polling day will be decided upon by an expert committee who will determine whether to raise particular issues with the country’s electoral commission.
“We hope that all the candidates will accept the outcome,” says Diallo. “Our electoral commission is well-equipped”, he adds, referring to preparations for the polls.
Codel’s election observation aims to make sure that civil society can react quickly to any potential problems on polling day. The group is using technology from One World Platform to connect observers across the country, a system that has been used previously in Senegal, Mali and Sierra Leone.
Elections in Burkina Faso are the result of a popular uprising which last year ousted former president Blaise Compaore who had ruled the country for 27 years. However, a coup in September temporarily overthrew a transitional government led by Michel Kafando. The transitional government was eventually reinstated following protests and negotiations led by regional bloc Ecowas.
There are a number of electoral observation missions in place for Burkina Faso’s polls including from the European Union and Ecowas.