Burkina Faso Commences Presidential Elections Despite Jihadist Attacks
Burkina Faso has gone ahead with the country's scheduled presidential elections despite continued attacks from Jihadist groups.
According to EWN, Burkina Faso went ahead with planned elections this past Sunday despite Jihadist threats which resulted in more than a fifth of the country not being able to vote. Additionally, opposition parties have been adamant about unseating current President Roch Marc Christian Kabore. According to Business Day news, Burkina Faso has been facing an unprecedented increase in Al-Qaeda related attacks which have destablised the country.
For the first time ever, citizens living outside of Burkina Faso were reportedly allowed to cast their votes. BBC reports that Ivory Coast alone has over 1.7 million potential Burkina Faso voters. President Kaboré cast his vote at a school in Ouagadougou and encouraged people to do the same. Kabore has been president since 2015 and served under former President Blaise Compaoré who was president for three decades. Compaoré was ousted in 2014 and currently lives in exile.
Al Jazeera reports that the elections went relatively smoothly although some polling stations in the eastern region had to be closed because of safety concerns. Jihadists crossing over from Mali entered Burkina Faso about four years ago. Just last week, fourteen of Kabore's military soldiers were killed in a Jihadist ambush for which ISIS later claimed responsibility. Opposition parties have reportedly promised to host peace talks with the terror groups if voted into power. Kabore has reportedly refused this position and instead indicated increasing the number of security and army forces.
Kabore's government signed in a new electoral code this past August. The "extraordinary circumstances" code allowed for presidential and legislative elections to go ahead even if several polling stations cannot open. Opposition parties were dissatisfied by parliament invoking the new code and pledged an unofficial alliance as part of efforts to unseat Kabore in the elections. The change to the electoral code benefits Kabore's political party which has strong support from voters in areas that aren't affected by the violence, including Ouagadougou.
Kabore is, expected to win the election for a second presidential term. His main opposition are Zephirin Diabre, a former finance minister, and Eddie Komboigo, a candidate from the former ruling party. Results are expected to be in by the end of this week.
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