Burkina Faso’s upcoming elections put political settlement to test

In the wake of the combined (presidential and legislative) ballot, suspicions of fraud are likely to shatter the agreement signed…

In the wake of the combined (presidential and legislative) ballot, suspicions of fraud are likely to shatter the agreement signed by the various actors with a view to holding peaceful elections.The final results of the elections are yet to be proclaimed. The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) is busy compiling the results transmitted by its branches. In view of the first trends, the trio Roch Marc Christian Kabore, Eddie Komboigo and Zephirin Diabre seems to stand out from the other ten candidates.

The outgoing president, sure of his strength, has predicted a “knockout” victory in the first round. This hypothesis is rejected by the opposition, which denounces acts of fraud, without being able to provide evidence.

Participating in the election night hosted by the country’s Broadcaster (RTB, public), Moussa Zerbo, the spokesman of the Union for Progress and Change (UPC) declared that “the tenderness,” shown in 2015 by Mr. Diabre’s party, will not be in effect this time around, due to “irregularities” noted here and there.

On Monday, November 23, the Conference of candidates who signed the Ouagadougou political agreement held a press briefing in the capital to express “all (its) dismay at the way in which these elections were organized.”

In a statement read by Tahirou Barry, one of the 13 candidates in the presidential race, this group of opponents maintains that publishing the results of the vote, “largely favorable to the outgoing majority” is contrary “to the provisions of the Electoral Code, which provide for manual compilation at all municipal centers.”

According to opposition parties, “the CENI did not live up to the mission of good organization of the elections.” To support this thesis, they list shortcomings including the last-minute and informal modification of the number and mapping of polling stations selected for the elections, the late opening and even non-opening of several dozen polling stations across the country, the absence or delay in the delivery of electoral material, the unsecured transport of ballot boxes on motorcycles, etc.

Ultimately, the signatories of the Ouagadougou political agreement state that “the entire (electoral) process was heavily fraught with anomalies.” Roch Marc Christian Kabore’s opponents believe that this “penalizes opposition candidates (and) discredits the results of the CENI.”

Consequently, these contenders said they “will not accept results marred by irregularities and which do not reflect the will of the Burkinabe people.”

In a press release dated November 21, Harouna Yoda, the Prosecutor of Faso at the County Court of Ouaga 1, announced the establishment of a “duty office” for the purposes of “receiving and judging electoral fraud offenses and the like, falling within its area of competence.” Zephirin Diabre, the opposition leader, has already lodged a complaint with it.

All things that make Lionel Bilgo, a local political analyst, say that “if the positions (remain) tense, we fear a post-electoral crisis, but voices are being raised to call on politicians to a sense of responsibility.”