President Roch Marc Christian Kabore will serve another five years as Burkina Faso’s leader, according to preliminary results announced by the National Independent Electoral Commission.
“Mr Kabore … with 57.87 percent of the vote, is provisionally elected president of [Burkina] Faso in the first round,” Newton Ahmed Barry, head of the commission, said on Thursday.
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Kabore vowed on Thursday to strengthen dialogue in his troubled country after the landslide victory in his bid for a second term.
“I will deploy all my efforts so that through continuous consultation, through dialogue … we can work together for peace and development,” he said at his party’s headquarters in the capital Ouagadougou.
Some analysts had expected a closer contest in the election held on Sunday between Kabore, who was elected in 2015, and his 12 rivals, who argued he had failed to contain armed groups and ethnic violence.
The voting process was marred by threats of attacks by armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) which operate across vast swathes of Burkina Faso amid an escalating security situation in West Africa’s Sahel.
Last year, the conflict killed some 2,000 people in Burkina Faso. More than one million Burkinabe people have been displaced by the fighting.
Kabore received 1.6 million votes of the nearly three million cast, with voter turnout at 50 percent, Barry said.
The opposition had hoped to split the vote and deprive Kabore of the 51 percent needed for an outright victory and then form a coalition behind the strongest candidate for round two.
But leading candidate, Eddie Komboigo, head of the Congress for Democracy and Progress, received 15 percent and the other leading rival, Zephirin Diabre, from the Progress and Change Party, who lost to Kabore during the previous election, received approximately 12 percent.
The opposition has accused the governing party of foul play, including bribery.
The process was “riddled with fraud” and the electoral commission was not up to the task of organising responsible elections, Tahirou Barry, an opposition candidate, told a news conference.
The electoral body, though, has dismissed such claims and an international observer mission gave the election a mostly clean bill of health.
The opposition has seven days to appeal the vote. It was not immediately clear if they would.
The African Union and the Economic Community of West African States, a regional bloc, said appeals should be made through legal avenues in a “calm environment and especially to avoid violence,” Makuza Bernard, who led the AU delegation, told The Associated Press.
Civil society organisations say the president will need to work harder in his second term to unite an increasingly divided country.
“He should make sure that promises not met during the last five years will be met in order to alleviate social discontent. The social discontent is not only happening in big towns but that is happening more and more in the countryside,” Chrysogone Zougmore, president of the Burkinabe Movement for Human Rights, a local advocacy group, told AP.
Ahmed Idris, reporting from Abuja in Nigeria, said the indication is that the opposition do intend to challenge the results.
“So the biggest question for most Burkinabes is how far will the opposition go. Are they going to call on their supporters onto the streets of Ouagadougou and other cities around the country?” he said.
“[Some] believe that it will give the opportunity to armed groups to attack targets in Burkina Faso, despite the fact that the election passed peacefully without any major incident or attack from any of the armed groups that have been bothering the country for the last five years.”