Burkina Faso elections: Early voting calm and peaceful in Ouagadougou for landmark polls
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Early voting for Burkina Faso’s landmark election passed without incident at polling stations visited by RFI on Sunday morning in Ouagadougou. Voters said they were proud and happy to be deciding on the fate of their country after 27 years of rule under former strongman Blaise Compaore. Elections are the result of a popular uprising against Compaore last October.
“I’m very, very happy because today we are going to change the politics of our country”, said student Pascal Diala at the Medersa polling station in Ouagadougou after casting his ballot. Diala told RFI that the voting process was “well organised”.
At the same polling station Issa Ouedrago, owner of a shoe shop, said he had a “feeling of joy” after voting. It took Ouedrago 30 minutes to vote at one of three polling stations at the same site. RFI witnessed some 50 voters in three separate lines with some voters spending two hours queuing.
Presidential candidate Zephirin Diabre, Union for Progress and Change party, cast his ballot at the same polling station. He created a stir amongst voters and awaiting journalists when he joined the back of line alongside other voters. “I’m a normal citizen, being candidate for the presidency doesn’t give you any privilege over others,” said Diabre, one of the frontrunners in the polls alongside Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of the People’s Progress Movement party.
The electoral commission has done a professional job of organising the polls, according to interim Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida, who cast his ballot at the Les Creusets polling station. Zida called on all candidates to accept the results and when asked about his future after the end of the transitional government, said he could not retire at 50 years of age. Members of the transitional government could not take part in the polls.
“It’s the moment for all Burkinabe to come and decide who’ll manage the country after 27 years of Compaore,” said voter Salif Bambara, speaking after voting at the Lycee le reveil polling station when it opened at around 06:00 local time.
Members of the security forces were present at the three polling stations visited by RFI on Sunday morning. Security has been a concern following the failed coup attempt in September which delayed the elections originally scheduled for October.
A number of observers are in place to monitor the elections including those from the European Union and regional bloc Ecowas. Codel, a grouping of civil society organisations, has some 5,000 observers in place to provide real-time reports via text message on the conduct of the elections.
Some 5.5 million Burkinabe are registered for Sunday’s polls to choose from 14 presidential candidates and around 3,500 legislative candidates at almost 18,000 polling stations.
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