Burkina election candidates dominated by old political guard

DAKAR, Aug 22 – An ex-prime minister and several ministers were among 22 candidates who registered for Burkina Faso’s October election, a court said on Saturday, meaning the West African country’s next president would likely come from the old political guard.

Friday was the deadline for candidates to register for the October 11 vote on the successor of long-time president Blaise Compaore, who was toppled in October by street protests as he tried to extend his 27-year rule.

A turbulent transitional government changed the electoral law in April to exclude anyone who supported Compaore’s bid to stay in office, but the top court of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the highest appeal tribunal in the region, overruled that in July.

Amongst the favourites is former prime minister Roch Marc Kabore, a long-time stalwart of Compaore’s regime who split away last year to found the opposition People’s Movement for Progress (MPP). Kabore enjoys support among Burkina’s business community and traditional leaders.

Another leading candidate is Zephirin Diabre, a former finance minister under Compaore, who worked for French nuclear group Areva before founding his Union for Progress and Change (UPC) party in 2010. Former foreign minister Djibrill Bassole will also represent a coalition of opposition groups.

Compaore’s former ruling party, the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), named a little-known businessman and former member of parliament, Eddie Komboigo, as its presidential candidate in July.

The transition has been marred by tensions between the powerful Regiment of Presidential Security (RSP), Compaore’s well-armed praetorian guard, and the government led by Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida, a former second-in-command of the elite unit.

Transitional authorities have vowed to clamp down on corruption and two former ministers in Compaore regime were arrested last week as part of an ongoing investigation.

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