The opposition mounted the pressure on Saturday in Burkina Faso on the eve of the elections, accusing the authorities of preparing a “massive fraud” and threatening not to recognize the results in case of victory in the first round of outgoing President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.
The announcement comes as the country is living its darkest hours since independence in 1960, plagued by attacks by jihadist groups that have left at least 1,200 dead in five years.
Sign of the ambient tension, an American citizen was killed Saturday by security forces in front of a military camp in Ouagadougou.
“It is a regrettable accident (…) Faced with his refusal to comply, followed by an attempt to escape, they (soldiers) proceeded to shoot (…) He was immediately evacuated to a center health care where he unfortunately died, “said a Burkinabè security source. An American diplomatic source has confirmed the death of a United States national.
The situation is particularly very tense around the camps and military bases often targeted by the jihadists in the provinces but also once in Ouagadougou. On March 2, 2018, simultaneous attacks targeting the army staff in the capital and the French embassy claimed the lives of eight soldiers on the staff.
The leader of the opposition Zéphirin Diabré, main challenger to the outgoing president, and five other candidates denounced during a press point in Ouagadougou fraud in the organization of the double presidential and legislative elections on Sunday.
“It is clear that there is a great operation orchestrated by the power in place”, declared Mr. Diabré, evoking “a massive fraud to legitimize” a victory in the first round of President Kaboré and threatening not “to accept results tainted with irregularity “.
“It is absolutely inconceivable after having traveled all over Burkina Faso to think of having a winning party from the first round”, hammered Mr. Diabré, with Eddie Komboïgo at his side, candidate of the party of former president Blaise Compaoré and presented as the third man of the poll.
Blaise Compaoré’s Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), which was banned from voting in 2015, is indeed back, the former president seeming to benefit from a certain comeback in Burkinabè public opinion. .
The Kaboré clan promised, as in 2015, a victory in the first round of this election considered to be the most open in the history of Burkina, a very poor agricultural and mining country in West Africa, which has suffered multiple blows. State since its independence.
Saturday evening, he “refuted” the “allegations of fraud announced by the opposition to prepare the spirits for the publication of the results”, according to the president of the presidential party, Simon Compaoré, affirming not having need “of any fraud to win the elections “.
– “Haunting” of the second round –
A “knockout” victory would allow Mr. Kaboré to avoid a second round against a candidate supported by the entire opposition, a “fear”, according to political science professor Drissa Traoré.
In 2015, the party “had achieved this feat (a victory in the first round) but it was mainly thanks to its kingmaker”, the late president of the presidential party Salif Diallo, renowned political strategist, who died in 2017, said -he.
There has never been a second round in a presidential election in Faso so far.
Friday during his last campaign meeting, President Kaboré had mocked these accusations of fraud, already made by Mr. Diabré: “How can we anticipate fraud?”, Asked the president in front of tens of thousands of activists .
He had mocked “those who do not even know how elections go”.
– Darkest hours –
This rise in pressure Saturday occurs after a campaign without real enthusiasm, apart from the meager excitement of the meetings where the presence of thousands of people was “motivated” by a small banknote.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday hailed the “climate of mutual respect during the electoral process”.
Some 6.5 million Burkinabè registered on the electoral rolls must elect their president and their deputies.
The number of people displaced by these attacks has increased exponentially in two years to reach one million, or 5% of the Burkinabè population, whole swathes of the territory beyond the control of the state.
The election will not be able to be held in at least a fifth of the territory, the fear of jihadist attacks on voting day being on everyone’s minds.
Members of the security forces, the number of which has not been disclosed, have been deployed throughout the country.