Burkina Faso is choosing a new president and parliament following a year of political instability, including a popular uprising and a foiled military coup. Security is tight amid a threat of a attack.
Voters in Burkina Faso headed for the polls on Sunday to replace a transitional government put in place after longtime President Blaise Compaore was ousted in an uprising in October 2014 by citizens furious at his attempt to remain longer in office than allowed by the constitution.
The country of 20 million faced more political uncertainty in September this year after Compaore's presidential guard tried to topple the transitional administration shortly before a presidential vote scheduled for November 11. The attempted coup was foiled by enraged citizens who again took to the streets in protest, and the elections were rescheduled to the current date.
Fourteen candidates are taking part in the race for the presidency. Members of Compaore's Congress for Democracy and Progress party (CDP) and those who backed his unconstitutional bid for a third term have been banned from standing.
The two favorites for the job, Roch Marc Christian Kabore and Zephirin Diabre, were once close to Compaore, but both have credibly dissociated from him.
The CDP is, however, still fielding candidates for the parliamentary elections and retains considerable support in some parts of the country.
Five million people are eligible to vote in Sunday's election.
New democratic chance
The vote is the first time that no incumbent president has been on the ballot, something analysts say makes it the most open and democratic in the country's history.
The country's election committee has said it will publish preliminary results as early as Monday.
If no presidential candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held 15 days after results from the first round are finalized.
The poll is taking place under high security, with between 20,000 and 25,000 troops deployed to ward off the threat of attacks. More than 17,000 local and international monitors are in the country to watch over the legitimacy of the election.
Compaore, now living in exile in neighboring Ivory Coast, ruled the impoverished country for 27 years. He came to power in 1987 after former leader Thomas Sankara was shot dead in a coup that Compaore is widely suspected of masterminding.
tj/jlw (AFP, AP)