Breaking: Burkina’s exiled former leader looms large over election
Six years after his exile, the shadow of Burkina Faso’s ousted President Blaise Compaore hangs over Sunday’s presidential election, as nostalgia has set in for ‘peace’ in the country which has since been undermined by a grinding militancy.
“At every speech, at every appearance by the candidates, Blaise Compaore’s name returns” because many remember his rule as a time when there was “a certain tranquility,” said Mahamoudou Savadogo, a specialist in security issues in the Sahel.
The impoverished West African country of some 20 million people is in the fifth year of militant attacks that have claimed more than 1,200 lives and forced a million people from their homes.
The security crisis has dominated the campaign ahead of the vote in which President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, the heavy favorite, has promised “peace and victory for our people”.
However his performance during the mounting unrest is under scrutiny. He faces a stiff challenge from Zephirin Diabre, the runner-up in 2015’s election, and Eddie Komboigo, a wealthy accountant standing for Compaore’s Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) party.
Since his departure, the dismantling of an elite army unit that staged a botched coup in 2015, and the arrest of General Gilbert Diendere — Compaore’s right-hand man, considered the head of the intelligence services — Burkina has only fallen deeper into an unprecedented spiral of violence, with whole swathes of the country falling outside the state’s control.