afrol News, 23 November - Sunday's presidential elections in Burkina Faso today were hailed as "peaceful, free, credible and transparent" by observers. But opposition candidates cry foul as President Blaise Compaoré is poised to win.
The first assessment of the Burkinabe elections were released today as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), where Burkina Faso is a member state, characterised the poll as "peaceful, free, credible and transparent."
In a preliminary statement by the leader of the mission, former Togolese Prime Minister, Koffi Sama, the ECOWAS mission said it had observed that the campaigns were conducted in a peaceful environment and expressed satisfaction “with the various efforts undertaken by Burkina Faso authorities and by all the stakeholders to secure a good electoral process in a peaceful environment”.
Mr Sama however noted some weaknesses such as the non-compliance with the information on the voter's card with regard to the relevant provisions of the electoral code, difficulties with the distribution of voter's cards and the problems relating to inaccurate information on polling stations as well as the low rate of registration compared to the country's population.
In spite of these weaknesses, the ECOWAS mission leader stated that his mission had observed "no major irregularity that could affect the freedom, credibility and transparency of the election."
Four opposition candidates however disagree to these conclusions. The four - Bénéwendé Stanislas Sankara, Hama Arba Diallo, Boukari Kaboré and François Ouampoussogo Kaboré - today issued a statement in Ouagadougou, denouncing "serious irregularities" that challenged the "credibility and integrity of the vote."
The "irregularities" quoted by the four candidates included the illegal issuing of voter's cards, the alleged existence of a "parallel voters' list," allowing some voters to cast their ballot several times and the "intentional retention" of ID cards in opposition strngholds to prevent voting there.
These "irregularities" were so grave that candidate Sankara called for anullation of the first round of the presidential election. He further called for the immediate resignation of Moussa Michel Tapsoba, the head of Burkina Faso's Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), who was blamed for the "irregularities".
The CENI, meanwhile, has announced it will issue the first provisional results of Sunday's poll on Thursday. While CENI has yet to make any comments on the poll, observers noted a very low turnout on Sunday. Analysts talk of "voter apathy".
Incumbent President Compaoré has been in power since a 1987 coup. He has since allowed multi-party democracy and legitimised his grip on power by relatively fair elections. In the last poll, in 2005, Mr Compaoré achieved 80 percent of the vote. As the opposition remains split, nobody expects this year's election to end in another way than in 2005.
While the Burkinabé experience some limitations to democracy, President Compaoré in general enjoys wide support. The 59-year-old is credited with bringing political stability to the Sahelian country, which earlier had been plagued by coups. President Compaoré has also headed the country during its period of strongest economic growth.
The opposition however holds the Burkinabé leader is undemocratic and does not basic human rights.
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