Burkina Faso elects new leader in historic vote

Former PM is second civilian to become president of West African nation after almost three decades of one-man rule.

Roch Marc Christian Kabore has been elected Burkina Faso’s new leader, the second civilian to become president since the West African country won independence in 1960, according to preliminary results released by the country’s electoral commission.

The Independent National Electoral Commission said on Tuesday morning that results showed that Kabore, from the Movement of People for Progress party, won 53.5 percent of the vote, just enough to secure a first round victory.

Kabore, 58, will now replace the transitional government put in place after Blaise Compaore, Burkina Faso’s longtime leader, was toppled in a popular uprising in October 2014.

Burkina Faso: Why the election matters

Zephirin Diabre came in second place with 29.6 percent of the vote, and Tahirou Barry came in third with three percent.

Barthelemy Kere, electoral commission president, said 60 percent of the country’s 5.5 million registered voters participated in Sunday’s election.

Fourteen candidates took part in the elections to replace the transition government set up after Compaore was forced into exile in October 2014 after a 27-year rule.

The poll, originally scheduled for October, was postponed after a coup by the presidential guard in September.

Michel Kafando, transitional president, and the prime minister were restored to power after a week, and the guard was disbanded.

Hundreds of supporters gathered on Monday night at Kabore’s campaign headquarters as early results showed him likely to win. Diabre joined and congratulated him.

Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow, reporting from the capital, Ouagadougou, said crisis-weary citizens celebrated the end of political turmoil in their country.

“It’s the hope of many here that the election of a new president will usher in a new era of peaceful democracy in a country that has seen many military coups since independence in 1960,” he said.

After the popular uprising last year, “there’s a sense that there’s no one leader that can impose themselves Burkina Faso anymore.”

Candidates have seven days to contest the results before the constitutional court finalises them.

Kabore was the prime minister and speaker of parliament under Compaore.

In January 2014, Kabore and others broke with Compaore to oppose a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed him to extend his power.

Compaore seized power in a coup, ruled for 27 years and won four elections, all of which were criticised as unfair.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies