Burkina Faso to vote in shadow of jihadist threat

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Burkina Faso will vote in a general election Sunday 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 criticized the incumbent’s failure to stem the bloodshed.

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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”.