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.
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.
What were your plans for this year? I wanted to move to Valencia, Spain. I’ve been there several times and always felt at home. I had gotten pretty far with my plans. I made sure I had no long-term commitments and was looking at properties. But like the rest of the world, I had to adjust my plans. We were all forced to participate in a classic Stoic exercise.
This is something Epictetus talked about in his philosophy school. He said, “When you are traveling by ship, you can go to the shore, enjoy the scenery, collect shells, or pick flowers. But when you are called back to the ship, you need to drop everything and hurry back, otherwise the ship may leave without you.”
That’s 2020 in a nutshell. We were somewhere enjoying the scenery, maybe picking some flowers. Some of us were already looking at other places to visit on our ship. But we were called back to the ship abruptly: “We’re going home, everybody.”
In life, we make up all kinds of plans and goals. But we must be prepared to give up everything when something unexpected happens. Let’s be honest, was this pandemic really unexpected? Why do we feel so blindsided by this crisis? It reminds me of the first time I lost someone close to me, my grandmother. She wasn’t in good health for the last years of her life. But when she passed, it hit me pretty hard. This was before I practiced Stoicism.
In recent years, I’ve adopted a different mindset about life: We must be able to give up everything when it’s called back. We have many things in life that we value; our family, friends, career, business, hobbies, car, investments, you name it. We feel like we have a right to have those relationships or objects. But in reality, we own nothing, and nothing is owed to us. We’re guests who temporarily walk this planet.
This mindset shift has helped me. I look at everything in life as borrowed from someone I personally know. Think about it. How do you act if you borrow something from a friend? You don’t get attached, but at the same time, you also take care of it. Live your life like that. Your job, house (even if you bought it), car, assets, and even relationships are not yours. Nothing is truly yours. Crazy, right? But we know on some level that this is true.
- The film Elysium will accompany Trans TV Cinema viewers today, Monday (22/2/2021). This 2013 film Elysium is the second film by director Neill Blomkamp.