After a tumultuous year that saw Burkina Faso depose its former leader and stave off a military coup, the country has elected Roch Marc Christian Kabore as its new president.
On 1 December 2015 the Independent National Electoral Commission said Kabore won 53.5% of the ballot to secure a first-round victory and become only the second civilian to lead the West African country since its independence in 1960, and end one-man rule.
Former leader Blaise Compaore was forced into exile in October 2014 when a popular uprising that ended his 27-year rule. The election was then postponed after the presidential guard staged a failed military coup in September this year.
The election saw 60% of the country’s 5.5 million registered voters cast their ballots without incident and only minor and sporadic logistical problems ‒ a far higher turnout than any election under Compaore who won all four elections held while he was in power, all of which were deemed not free and fair.
Kabore, from the Movement of People for Progress (MPP) party, has promised to fight youth unemployment, improve education and modernise the health system saying: “We must get to work immediately. Together we must serve the country. I am determined to open up opportunities for a better tomorrow and build a new Burkina Faso. We have had a total rupture with the old system. I pledge to bring real change to the country.”
Kabore was prime minister and speaker of parliament under Compaore, but the two fell out when the latter proposed a constitutional amendment to allow him to extend his tenure.
Of the 14 candidates who contested elections, Kabore’s main rival Zephirin Diabre came in second with 29.6% and congratulated Kabore just before the official results were released.
Chairperson of the civil society platform monitoring the election CODEL, Halidou Ouedraogo, said they were pleased at how peaceful the election was while Michel Kafando, who led the transitional government put in place after Compaore was ousted, called the vote a “victory for the Burkinabe people” and the “first fully democratic and transparent election since 1978.”