By Daniel Finnan
Turnout is expected to be high in Burkina Faso's landmark elections on Sunday, according to the electoral commission. Voting was well organised with a few isolated incidents at polling stations seen by RFI and as reported by domestic observers. The polls are the first since the ousting of former strongman Blaise Compaore who ruled the country for 27 years.
"A considerable, strong turnout at polling stations," said Barthelemy Kere, head of the electoral commission, on Sunday evening. Kere described the vote as "generally satisfactory" as counting got underway.
Some 50 critical incidents were reported during polling, according to domestic observer group Codel, who had some 6,000 monitors overseeing the countries almost 18,000 polling stations. The grouping of civil society organisations said there were problems relating to logistical issues.
In a statement, Codel provided statistics on the reports their observers had compiled in an initial assessment. Nearly 99 per cent of polling stations had opened by 7am on Sunday, an hour later than they were scheduled to open. Four members of polling station staff were present at 94 cent of the sites and security forces were in place at 93 per cent.
At some 30 polling stations RFI visited on Sunday voting was mainly carried out in an organised, peaceful manner. However, logistical problems hampered voting at two polling stations.
A polling station at Ecole Saint Bernard in the Kadiogo district of Ouagadougou had yet to receive its voter registration list by mid-afternoon. Some frustrated voters had been waiting since 5am, but without the list staff were unable to correctly verify people and could not begin the process. An official from the electoral commission eventually arrived and promised to solve the problem.
At the Yamtenga polling station in Karpala on the edge of Ouagadougou the situation was more unusual. Some 50 voters were waiting outside a supposed polling station which had no staff present or voting materials. Staff at nearby polling stations said they had been in touch with the electoral commission. It was not clear whether this problem was caused by logistical difficulties or a breakdown in communication.
Several international observer groups monitored Sunday's polls including the European Union and regional bloc Ecowas.
"We were really impressed by the organisation," Tulinabo Mushingi, US ambassador to Burkina Faso, told RFI. The US embassy deployed some 70 staff members to observe the vote. Mushingi said minor problems with the vote were "expected" given the number of polling stations.
Mushingi said it was too early to speculate about candidates or parties not accepting the results. The US diplomat said "everybody's watching" and once the results come out "there are legal ways of contesting the results" if that is necessary.
Burkinabe voters had 14 presidential candidates to choose from in Sunday's polls and some 3,500 candidates in legislative elections. Preliminary results are expected on Monday evening.
Source: www.rfi.fr/afrique (Through Allafrica.com)