Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré has won re-election in the November 22 poll with 57.87 percent of the vote, according to full preliminary results announced by the election commission on Thursday.
Having won more than 50 percent of the total ballots cast, Kaboré has secured enough votes to avoid a second round.
Welcoming the news of his re-election, Kaboré vowed, on Twitter, to be a “president for all Burkinabés” and said he would make “every effort” to “work for peace and development of our country”.
Je serai le Président de tous les Burkinabè.
Nous allons nous mettre au travail immédiatement.
Dieu bénisse le Burkina Faso #BurkinaVote2020
— Roch KABORE (@rochkaborepf) November 26, 2020
Some analysts had expected a closer contest on Sunday between Kaboré, who was elected president of Burkina Faso in 2015, and his main rivals, who argued he had failed to contain jihadist and ethnic violence that forced 1 million people to flee their homes during his first term.
Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary elections were held in the shadow of jihadist violence, with a surge in attacks by groups with links to al Qaeda and the Islamic State group claiming more than 2,000 lives this year alone.
Once perceived as a stable West African nation, Burkina Faso’s fate is now closely tied with that of the wider Sahel region, where 5,000 French troops are deployed under Operation Barkhane, cooperating with a fledgling European Operation Takuba force.
The presidential election results read out by the election commission on Thursday showed Kaboré taking 57.87 percent of the vote while his two closest rivals, Zéphirin Diabré and Eddie Komboigo, received 12.46 percent and 15.48 percent, respectively.
‘We don’t need’ violence
Kaboré’s opponents have raised concerns about the validity of the vote count. But the electoral commission has dismissed those and an international observer mission gave the election a mostly clean bill of health.
While there were some reports of irregularities, such as in the country’s east, where approximately 30 people voted on fake ballots because no ballot paper was available, it wasn’t widespread, said Halidou Ouedraogo, president of CODEL, a local organisation monitoring the elections.
Opposition candidates have seven days to appeal the vote. It was not immediately clear if they would.
The African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc said appeals should be made through legal avenues in a “calm environment and especially to avoid violence”, said Makuza Bernard, who led the AU delegation. “We don’t need (violence). The Burkinabé don’t need that,” he said.
Marginalised communities in insecure areas
While there were no reports of major attacks on election day, threats of violence prevented people from casting ballots in very insecure parts of the country. Nearly 3,000 polling stations that were expected to open didn’t, preventing up to 350,000 people from voting, according to the electoral commission.
Many of the communities unable to vote were already marginalised, and civil society organisations say the president will need to work harder in his second term to unite an increasingly divided country.
“He should make sure that promises not met during the last five years will be met in order to alleviate social discontent. The social discontent is not only happening in big towns but that is happening more and more in the countryside,” said Chrysogone Zougmore, president of the Burkinabé Movement for Human Rights, a local advocacy group.
Citizens in violence-ridden regions say the government has to improve security so it can focus on development, “to keep young people busy so that they no longer indulge in terrorism”, said the Emir of Liptako, Ousmane Amirou Dicko, who lives in the Sahel region’s Dori town.
As Kaboré’s supporters celebrated, opposition supporters said they’ll accept the results but expect the opposition to hold the ruling party accountable.
“There is a need to be watchful. Everyone needs to participate in managing the country,” said Paul Lengane, a Ouagadougou resident.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)