Burkina Faso elections get under way

Voting is under way in Burkina Faso to elect a new president and parliament after a year of political turmoil.

Roch Marc Christian Kabore (left) and Zephirin Diabre are considered the front-runners
Roch Marc Christian Kabore (left) and Zephirin Diabre are considered the front-runners

It is the first election since last year’s popular uprising which toppled longstanding president Blaise Compaore.

Security is tight with up to 25,000 troops expected to be deployed across the country.

The vote was due to have been held last month but was delayed by a failed coup in September led by members of the elite presidential guard.

The election is meant to mark the end of the transitional period following Mr Compaore’s removal. Analysts say it could be the most open and democratic vote in the country’s history.

“For the first time in 50 years there is an electoral uncertainty… we don’t know the winner in advance,” said Abdoulaye Soma, head of Burkina Faso’s society of constitutional law.

“This is a positive point and a fundamental change from the other elections that we had seen earlier.”

Former President Blaise Compaore was forced from office by street protests in October 2014 over his plans to serve another five-year term. He had been in power for 27 years.

A transitional government was installed but the country was thrown into turmoil again in September when members of the elite presidential guard led a short-lived coup. The attempt failed and the guard was disbanded.

Mr Compaore, 64, is now living in exile in neighbouring Ivory Coast.

Fourteen candidates are standing for the presidency and reports suggest that Roch Marc Christian Kabore and Zephirin Diabre are the front-runners.

Economist Mr Diabre has served as minister of economy and finance before he fell out with Mr Campaore in 2010.

Mr Kabore served as prime minister and chairman of the Congress for Democracy and Progress party (CDP) before leaving the party in 2014, after opposing plans to extend Mr Compaore’s rule.

If no candidate wins an absolute majority in the first round, a second round will be held.

Polls close at 18:00 GMT and provisional results should be known by Monday evening.

Source: BBC