Burkina Faso elects new President
Roch Marc Kabore won Burkina Faso's elections with more than 53% of votes, marking an end to the transitional period following Mr Compaore's removal. Kabore has served as chairman of the Congress for Democracy and Progress party (CDP) before he left in 2014, when he opposed Mr Compaore's plans for an extended term. Zephirin Diabre, his closest opponent won less than 30% of votes.
Burkina Faso is a small West African country. It was previously known as the Republic of Upper Volta and got its current name only on 4 August 1984, when the then President- Thomas Sankara renamed it.
In 1987, Blaise Compaore came to power as the President of Burkina Faso, having staged a coup d'état, in which the previous president, Thomas Sankara died under mysterious circumstances. Compaore at that time was serving as Minister of State under Sankara. The coup was a re-enactment of the 1983 coup, which Compaore had orchestrated, deposing Major Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo; power had been taken by Sankara.
In 2000, an amendment was made to the constitution of Burkina Faso. The amendment reduced the presidential term from 7 to 5 years and limited a president to a maximum of 2 terms.
Having taken over power, Compaore went on to win his presidency in the 1991 elections. However, in 2005, a controversy arose; the 2000 amendment made it unconstitutional for Compaore to contest again. A constitutional council ruled that Compaoré was excluded from this amendment because he was the President in 2000. Ultimately, he was re-elected president in the 2005 elections, winning 80% of the votes.
In June 2014, Compaore had announced his intention to contest for the next elections in 2015 and began to look to alter the constitution to allow him to extend his term. However, after 27 years, it seemed that the public did not want Compaore to continue, and violent protests rocked Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. The authorities imposed martial law in the state.
Demonstrators against Compaore continued to protest violently; soldiers had to fire live rounds and use tear gas to repel crowds seeking to storm the presidential home. Opposition leaders demanded his resignation; amidst all of this, Compaore announced that the bill to amend the constitution had been dropped. He also announced that the Government had been dissolved but vowed to stay in office, despite protests.
After 27 years, Compaore resigned as President and urged for elections to fill the vacant spot. It was reported that he was on the run. Lt Col Isaac Zida, the head of the presidential guard declared himself acting head of state, overruling Army chief Gen Honore Traore. He was later replaced by Michael Kafando, a civilian, who was to rule till the 2015 elections.
After almost a year of the interim government with President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Lt. Col. Isaac Yacouba Zida, the military in Burkina Faso arrested the two. The sudden arrest sparked fears of a coup just before the upcoming elections. The two were banned from leaving the presidential palace; soldiers resorted to gunfire as protestors tried to march on to the palace.
Fears that rose after the arrest of the interim leaders of the Burkina Faso government were confirmed by the military on Wednesday. The military took to the airwaves in the country to announce that it had successfully staged a coup and ousted the interim leaders. They identified themselves as the National Council for Democracy and announced that the government was now dissolved.
The coup leaders belong to the country's elite Presidential Security Regiment. It has had public disagreements with the transitional government in recent months and called for the resignation of Lt. Colonel Zida, a former second-in command of the unit.
Burkina Faso's security minister said that the country's soldiers had foiled a "large-scale attack", arresting 13 suspects and confiscating weaponry and bomb-making materials. The attack came right before the nation is expected to vote in the presidential elections. Those arrested were from the area of Mali which raised alarms that extremists groups were trying to sabotage the elections.
Burkina Faso held its first elections since a popular rebellion overthrew the West African nation's longtime head and started a tumultuous period of transition. The election is expected to mark the ending of the transitional period after Mr. Compaore's departure. Experts believe this could be the "most open and democratic vote" in the country's history. 14 candidates have stood for the Presidency.