​Burkina Faso elects new president in historic election

On Sunday the 29th November Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, 58, was elected Burkina Faso's new president. Kaboré is the second civilian to become president since the country’s independence in 1960.

Results showed that Kaboré won 53.5 percent of the vote. His main opponent Finance Minister Zephirin Diabre got 29.7 percent.

“We must show that civilians can rule the country, and bring it to normality. We have faced a lot of coups and it is enough,” Kaboré said before the election.

“Electoral uncertainty”

"For the first time in 50 years there is an electoral uncertainty," said Abdoulaye Soma, the head of the Burkinabe Society of Constitutional Law, as the Burkinabés were heading to the polls on Sunday. Around 5.5 million people were registered to vote at more than 17,800 polling stations. 60 percent voted.

The polls opened at 06:00am (0600 GMT) and closed at 6pm (1800) GMT. Though there were some tensions in the Karpala neighborhood in Ouagadougou as people lined up since 6 a.m., but were not allowed to vote until later in the morning, there were no other reports of severe unrest. Security was tight at polling stations with more than 17,000 local and foreign observers monitoring the poll, and 25,000 soldiers and police were guarding that the election went through smoothly.

The voice of the people

"It is a victory for the youth that has expressed its will for change and for real democracy," said transitional President Michel Kafando as he cast his vote.

Especially many students who have not known any other president than Compoaré welcomed the election. Student Théophile Seguedo, says to Kalangu Magazine that “the election was according to the wishes of the people.” Also 23 years old student Alain Lucas is positive. He is too young to have had another president than Compoaré. “I hope that the elections are conducted in a peaceful setting and that every Burkinabe do the right thing, he said before heading to the polls in Ouagadougou.

The shadow of Compoaré

Sunday’s election could be a turning point for Burkina Faso that suffers from economical and political instability. The small West African country has had several coups, the latest only in September. It is now ruled under an interim government led by President Michel Kafando, the country's former foreign minister and UN diplomat. Kaboré will replace Kafando’s transitional government that was installed after Compoaré’s 27-years old rule.

To reinforce the legitimacy of the next head of state, members of the interim government were banned from running, as have all those who backed Compaoré's proposition for a third term, as well as members of his Congress for Democracy and Progress party (CDP). However, several of the 14 president contenders were once close to Compaoré.

Kaboré was prime minister and president of the National Assembly, under the regime of Compaoré, before leaving the party in 2014, after opposing a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed Compaoré to extend his power. Kaboré says now that he wants to restore the whole country.

"We need to organize ourselves to take in hand the whole country's preoccupations because our first objective is not simply to revive the economy but at the same time to satisfy the fundamental needs of the whole population."

Candidates and parties have seven days to contest the provisional figures. The constitutional court then has 15 days in which to publish definitive results.

Text by...

Sumbu Temo

27 years old journalist student and dreamer from Stockholm