Burkina Faso votes after year of political turmoil

Ouagadougou holds first election since last year’s popular uprising toppled longtime ruler Blaise Compaore.

Voters in Burkina Faso cast their ballots on Sunday, in the first presidential and legislative election since a popular uprising toppled the West African nation’s longtime leader and launched a turbulent period of transition.

Hundreds of thousands of citizens took to the streets in October 2014, furious over then-President Blaise Compaore’s bid to scrap constitutional term limits and stay in office.

Compaore resigned and fled the country, ending his 27-year rule of one of the poorest countries in the world. But the transitional government soon found itself at odds with his elite presidential guard.

With no incumbent on the ballot and the presidential guard now dissolved, candidates and analysts say the vote will be the most open and democratic in Burkina Faso’s history.

“We have a real chance for democracy here,” said Tahirou Barry, one of 14 presidential candidates. “For the first time, the incumbent president is not a candidate. This leaves the voters free of pressure, and there is fair play in the process.”

RELATED: Burkina Faso elections: Not a one-man race

Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow reporting from the capital, Ouagadougou, said there were long queues in most polling stations.

“A lot is at stake in this election, the road to this day has been a bumpy one,” Adow said.

“What the people want is for government officials to bring to an end the turmoil that has engulfed their country for the past year,” he added.

Adow noted there is currently a 60 percent unemployment rate in Burkino Faso.

“There are huge challenges for whoever wins these elections,” he said.

In September, members of the guard staged a failed coup that saw the interim government restored one week later.

RELATED: Burkina Faso elections: Why historic vote matters

At least 14 people, including two children, were killed during a crackdown on resistance to the coup, according to Amnesty International.


A revised electoral code bars candidates who supported the ex-president’s bid to change the constitution, though Compaore’s party could have a strong showing in the legislative election.

Some 5.5 million people are registered to vote, according to the election commission, which has said it will publish preliminary results as soon as Monday.

A candidate needs more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a run-off, which would be held 15 days after first-round results are finalised.

More than 17,000 local and foreign observers were expected to monitor the poll, while some 25,000 soldiers and police were to be deployed across the country.

Source: News Agencies