Burkina Faso’s election overshadowed by terrorism

Burkina Faso’s election overshadowed by terrorism

 

On Sunday, Burkina Faso will vote in a general election in the shadow of a growing jihadist insurgency; with President Roch Marc Christian Kabore expected to win re-election.

 

But no votes in the presidential and parliament polls will be cast in one-fifth of the country’s territory; where large swathes remain outside the state’s control and jihadist attacks strike almost daily.

 

The violence has forced one million people — five percent of the 20 million population — from their homes in the last two years; and at least 1,200 have been killed since 2015.

 

The security crisis has dominated the campaign and voting will take place under heavy surveillance in the landlocked West African country, one of the world’s poorest.

 

Most of the 12 opposition candidates running against Kabore have criticised the incumbent’s failure to stem the bloodshed.

 

But the opposition did not unite behind a single candidate and Kabore is aiming for a first round victory — as he won in 2015 — to stave off a run-off vote.

 

He faces stiff competition from 2015’s runner-up, veteran opposition leader Zephirin Diabre, and Eddie Komboigo; standing for the party of former president Blaise Compaore.

 

Compaore, who was ousted by a popular uprising in 2014 after 27 years in power, is now in exile but some voters are nostalgic for his regime.

 

Komboigo told a rally in the capital Ouagadougou Friday that Compaore would “return with all honours”; praising his “sacrifice for the development of Burkina Faso”.

 

 

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Dialogue with jihadists?

Fourteen soldiers were killed in an ambush in the north claimed by the Islamic State group earlier this month; one of the deadliest attacks on the military in the five-year insurgency.

 

Days later, the IS propaganda arm published a picture of two jihadists killing a man wearing an army uniform; — but the military denied there had been a new attack.

 

Jihadist violence in the north — as in neighbouring Sahel states Mali and Niger — has become intertwined with clashes between ethnic groups.

 

The Fulani community has in particular been targeted for recruitment by jihadists; and attacks regularly spark reprisal attacks, continuing the cycle of violence.

 

Humanitarian groups have condemned massacres of Fulani civilians by pro-government militias or the army.

 

Despite regularly claiming successes, the poorly equipped and trained army has slumped from loss to loss.

 

 

With so many families affected by the violence, said Nama, people are willing to exhaust all possibilities to stop the attacks. But, she said; it is unclear under what terms negotiations could be carried out with the terrorists — and who could conduct such negotiations.

 

Even Ouesseni, the seller of spare plumbing parts, isn’t averse to talks with the extremists.

 

“If it succeeds in negotiating peace with terrorists, why not?” he said. “We absolutely want peace.

About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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