Monday, November 30, 2015

Burkina Faso: Elections suffer low turnout

Burkina Faso voters are electing a president and parliament on Sunday, one year after a violent public uprising forced the West African country's long-time leader out of office.

Two out of 14 candidates had emerged as favourites.

One is former prime minister Roch Kabore, 58, of the People's Movement for Progress; the other is former finance minister Zephirin Diabre, 56, of the Union for Progress and Change.

Turnout appeared low in the morning, partly because many people were at church, but appeared to increase in the afternoon, observers said.

Minor irregularities were reported, such as a lack of equipment or some voters not finding their names on voting lists at some polling stations.

The elections come a year after an uprising against plans to modify the constitution to allow then president Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year rule.

Thousands of people protested in the capital Ouagadougou against the plan, which was cancelled amid violence and pillaging, while Compaore fled the country.

A transitional government was put in place with fresh elections set for October, but a coup attempt led by Compaore loyalist General Gilbert Diendere in September delayed the vote.

Diendere, who led the 1 200-member presidential guard in taking interim President Michel Kafando captive, has since been taken into custody by government forces.

Campaigning in the run-up to the elections was incident-free since the coup.

Kabore, who left Compaore's party out of opposition to extending his rule, is regarded as the forerunner against Diabre.

Both candidates have promised to boost economic growth in the agriculture-driven economy, which has a population of about 17 million.

The former French colony, known as Upper Volta until 1984, is a low-income country, with per capita income at $670 in 2013.

The UN's Human Development Index ranked Burkina Faso the 181st out of 187 countries in 2014.

Nearly 5.5 million voters were registered to vote.

If none of the candidates receives 50% of the vote, a second round will be held about eight days after the results, which are expected on December 5.

Source: DPA

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