Despite jihadist attacks, Burkina Faso holds presidential poll in ‘a climate of fear’

Tiny, landlocked Burkina Faso is the latest to enter the West African election cycle in 2020, which ends on December 27 in Niger.
201
A man cycles past a campaign poster of Mouvement du Peuple pour le Progrès (MPP), Burkina Faso’s incumbent President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré’s political party, in Ouagadougou on November 5, 2

In the midst of a deteriorating security situation, Burkina Faso goes to the polls on Sunday in the presidential and legislative elections. FRANCE 24 is interviewing an expert on the stakes and challenges of the election in the region.

While the US presidential campaign has concentrated much of the world's attention, 2020 has been a busy election year for West Africa, with a number of countries heading to the polls with high domestic and international geopolitical stakes in the elections.

The incumbent, Alpha Condé, was proclaimed the winner of the presidential election in Guinea on 18 October, granting a third term to the 82-year-old politician following a contentious constitutional referendum that reset its two-term limit.

President Alassane Ouattara was also proclaimed the winner of the October 31 poll in Ivory Coast, the economic centre of Francophone West Africa, with over 94 per cent of the vote. The Ivorian incumbent, like his Guinean counterpart, oversaw a constitutional amendment that reset the political calendar, cancelled the first two presidential terms of Ouattara and set his term at zero.

Tiny, landlocked Burkina Faso is the latest to enter the West African election cycle in 2020, which ends on December 27 in Niger.

Burkina Faso's Sunday presidential elections, unlike its neighbours, are not overshadowed by constitutional conflicts. Nevertheless, the security situation has deteriorated significantly in this nation of around 20 million people. Over the past five years, jihadist attacks have spread to the north and east of Burkina Faso in the broader Sahel region, taking more than 1,200 lives and driving about a million people from their homes.

The deteriorating security situation has ignited a nostalgia for the stability enjoyed by the nation under former strongman Blaise Compaoré, who ruled Burkina Faso in a popular uprising in 2014 for 27 years before his ouster. As he was nicknamed in his youth, Compaoré or "Beau Blaise" (Beautiful Blaise) lived in exile in the nearby Ivory Coast. But his shadow over the 2020 campaign trail has loomed large.