New president announced in Burkina Faso, loser humbly accepts defeat in democratic elections
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Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was elected president of Burkina Faso on Monday night, completing a year-long transition since the ousting of former strongman Blaise Compaore. Kaboré garnered 53 per cent of the vote with a turnout of 60 per cent, beating his nearest rival Zephirin Diabre who accepted defeat and said he would not contest the results.
“I believe in the ability of our people,” said Kaboré, referring to the challenges the country faced during a turbulent year which included a failed coup attempt led by the presidential guard.
Kaboré said challenges were put before the Burkinabe people so that they “could work together”, vowing to create a “Burkina Faso of democracy, of economic and social progress, of freedom, and of justice.”
People gathered outside the People’s Progress Movement (MPP) party campaign headquarters on Monday evening to celebrate Kaboré's victory. Results from Sunday’s polls were released by the country’s electoral commission throughout the day and the official proclamation was made around midnight.
“I congratulate the winner, who has the right to be proud having been chosen by his compatriots to steer the destiny of the whole country,” said Barthelemy Kere, president of the electoral commission.
Publication of the results one day after polling was widely seen as endorsing successful, democratic polls that were considered well organised. Codel, a domestic observation group of some 6,000 observers, had noted only minor logistical problems and 50 critical incidents from around 17,000 polling stations.
Kaboré's nearest rival Zephirin Diabre accepted defeat gracefully as results were announced. Diabre, head of the Union for Progress and Change (UPC) party, travelled to the MPP’s campaign headquarters to meet Kaboré and congratulate him on his victory.
“It’s the way of a new generation of political leaders in Burkina Faso,” Diabre told RFI, after meeting with Kaboré. “Democracy is certainly gaining some strength in this country, we don’t see it as a battle or fight - it’s a difference of ideas.”
Diabre, who was a frontrunner in the presidential race alongside Kaboré, took 29 per cent in the polls of some 5.5 million registered voters. The atmosphere at the UPC campaign headquarters was muted - preparations had been made for a party that never got underway.
The results bring to an end a transition which began when former president Compaore was overthrown in a popular uprising in October 2014. The elections had been delayed by a failed coup attempt in September led by the presidential guard which threatened to derail the transition.
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