Burkina Faso Elections Takes Place Despite Jihadist Threats

KEY POINTS

  • Polls have closed in Burkina Faso where people have been voting in presidential and parliamentary elections for the last few days.
  • Incumbent Burkina Faso President Roch Kaboré is seeking a second five-year term, with 13 opposition candidates challenging him.
  • Ahead of the vote it was estimated that at least 400,000 people - nearly 7% of the electorate - would be unable to take part due to polling stations being closed under threat of violence.

Polls have closed in Burkina Faso where people have been voting in presidential and parliamentary elections for the last few days.

Voting passed peacefully but some polling stations in eastern areas affected by a jihadist conflict had to close early due to security threats.

Incumbent Burkina Faso President Roch Kaboré is seeking a second five-year term, with 13 opposition candidates challenging him.

Brutal attacks have forced more than one million civilians from their homes in the past two years alone.

Campaigning was halted for 48 hours last week following a deadly ambush on soldiers in the north of the country.

Up to a fifth of the landlocked West African country is out of state control, estimates suggest, with rival jihadist groups battling for dominance and also attacks by other armed militias.

President Kaboré cast his vote in a school in the capital Ouagadougou and urged people to take part.

“I call on all Burkinabe to vote, whatever their leaning. It’s about the democracy of Burkina Faso, it’s about development, it’s about peace,” he said.

Election commission chief Newton Ahmed Barry told reporters that some polling stations in insecure eastern areas had to close early on Sunday because people had been threatened by jihadists.

“They told them: ‘Those who put their fingers in the ink can say goodbye to their finger’,” he said, referring to the method used to show people have voted.

Ahead of the vote it was estimated that at least 400,000 people – nearly 7% of the electorate – would be unable to take part due to polling stations being closed under threat of violence.

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The election is being held amid the coronavirus pandemic and many businesses and schools have been forced to close in parts of the country. In September, the UN warned that more than 500,000 Burkinabè children were acutely malnourished.

However, peace and security are priorities for many in this year’s elections.

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