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Burkina Faso to vote amid escalating violence




We will not give up, we will continue to fight until we have peace and victory on our land, he said.

But Kabore, who is seeking a second five-year term, is being accused by dozens of opposition candidates running for office of failing to secure the once-peaceful West African nation plunged into a humanitarian crisis, and has been plagued by jihadist attacks linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State since taking office in 2015.

The leader of the indictment against him is Eddie Komboigo, leader of the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), the party of former President Blaise Compaore who was ousted by a popular uprising in 2014. Komboigo told the AP that Burkina Faso was in a catastrophe and blamed Kabore that he was not ready to pursue a more diplomatic approach with the jihadists.

I do not think that terrorism can be overcome only with weapons, but with intelligence, dialogue and diplomacy. “Nowhere in the world has terrorism been overcome with weapons,” he said.

The other main rival, Zephirin Diabre, the candidate for the Union for Progress and Change (UPC) party, is running for the second time against Kabore, under the slogan, lets save the country. Diabre told the AP that the broken nation, once known for its social cohesion, must reconcile and present a united front against the armed people because you cannot fight the war and win it if you are not united and together, he said.

Kabore is expected to be re-elected and needs more than 50% of the vote to win in the first round. The opposition, however, hopes to split the vote, deprive the President of a complete victory and form a coalition after the strongest candidate for the second round. Election results must be announced within 48 to 72 hours, said a representative from the National Independent Election Commission (CENI).

Analysts warn that these elections will be a major test for the new nations’ democracy, and that a failure to hold a peaceful and transparent poll will give extremist groups operating in the region a significant propaganda boost and message. their that governments across the region are illegal and ineffective, said Alexandre Raymakers, senior African analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, a global risk adviser.

But the legitimacy of the election is already being questioned as violence has cut large areas of the country leaving people unable to cast their ballots. About 166,000 potential new voters were unable to register, according to CENI. A change to Burkina Faso’s electoral code earlier this year means the election results will be considered valid even if people cannot vote in parts of the country, threatening to undermine the legitimacy of the winners. Burkina Faso already has a low voter turnout: Less than 2 million votes, just 10 percent of the population, won the presidency in the last election, said Aristide Bere, a government official in charge of providing national ID cards.

A host of attacks in recent weeks also have security experts warning of possible problems on election day. Earlier this month Islamic State claimed responsibility for the killing of 14 soldiers in Sahels Oudalan province and a few days ago, an attacker threw a flammable bottle at a mosque in the capital, Ouagadougou, injuring six people.

We would see so many layers of uncertainty in the game both before, during and after the elections with dozens of incidents around polling stations, against civilians, against authorities. And clearly the government does not have the capacity to control this, said Flore Berger, a Sahel analyst.

Significant military reinforcements have been sent across the country to help secure the vote, according to a military leader who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to the press.

Civilians in the hard-hit areas say they are already being threatened by jihadists for not voting. The permanent mark of paint given after a vote has become a concern for many in the Sahel region.

In less volatile parts of the country, feelings for Sunday are mixed. Some citizens in Ouagadougou said Kabore deserved more time to prove himself, while others thought it was time for a change.

We have had (Kabore) in power for a long time, but security is not yet stable, said Vincent Gango, a resident of Ouagadougou. Why not hand it in and let someone else have a turn? he said.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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