History is poised to be made in Burkina Faso, with the population set to vote for the first time in the country’s history for a democratic change in power.
For 27 years President Blaise Compaore was in charge of the country, only for mass protests to end his era in October 2014. Protesters were incensed that Compaore’s party were attempting to cling to power by whatever controversial means they could think of.
Now, the big challenge is convincing everyone that voting is going to be a transparent affair that is no longer manipulated. The authorities have gathered 450 volunteers who are based at polling stations in a bid to echo this message across.
One thing that arguably works in the country’s favor is the current demographics. It’s understood that approximately 75% of Burkina Faso is under the age of 30, with this prompting a whole host of possible paths to appeal to the people and ask them to vote. It means the likes of Facebook, music and t-shirts are all being utilized to attempt to change opinions in the country and get people to the polling stations.
Who is running for the presidency?
There are thought to be two front runners for the presidency, with these coming in the form of Zephirin Diabre and Roch Marc Christian Kabore. The former was previously regional chief at nuclear company Areva SA, while Kabore will probably be more known to the people considering the fact he used to be the Prime Minster.
Individuals who certainly won’t be competing for the presidency are those who were involved in the former ruling party. Another rule which has been enforced is that all votes must be counted in front of the public – with both of these facts highlighting just how desperate the situation has become in Burkina Faso over the years.
Is there anything that could go wrong?
While getting people to vote is obviously a problem, it will not come as a surprise to hear that there have been other issues ahead of this election.
In September a team who used to be part of the former presidential guard attempted to overthrow the interim government. It worked temporarily – only for the national army to intervene and respond to protests which had called for the interim government to be restored again.
How important is the election?
It goes without saying that this election is the most important there has ever been in Burkina Faso, but not necessarily for the obvious reasons.
Experts have pointed out that the country desperately needs stability for financial reasons. Following the recent turmoil, investor confidence has been dashed significantly and this needs restoring as a matter of urgency.
Already, the interim government has had to slash spending to compensate for the lack of investment, as well as making up for shortfalls caused by Ebola and general decreasing commodity prices. Still, there does appear to be some shining light with the economy poised to increase by 5% this year following the changes.
Overall, trust and confidence in the country is at an all-time low though. Turnout for voting has reached as low as 30% over the years and when this is also considered, it’s clear that the upcoming weeks are crucial to the long-term development of Burkina Faso.