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Burkina Faso Election Called Unfair

November 15, 1998

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) _ Voters throughout Burkina Faso packed polling stations Sunday to participate in presidential elections that opposition leaders had hoped to derail with a boycott.

``I just want to participate in democracy,″ businessman Louis Diallo said after voting in the West African nation’s capital, Ouagadougou.

Critics maintained that incumbent President Blaise Compaore manipulated the election in his favor. His only contenders are seen as his supporters and not genuine candidates.

Candidates from the country’s leading opposition parties refused to run, calling the election anti-democratic. Compaore denied the charges and urged all eligible voters to cast their ballots.

``I’m confident in the ongoing democratic process,″ he said after voting.

Observers from the European Union and Organization of African Unity monitored balloting Sunday.

The vote was the second presidential election in Burkina Faso in seven years. Compaore transformed the military leadership he held since 1987 into a civilian administration in 1991, when he called the first election after resigning his military commission.

Opposition parties boycotted those polls and mounted a campaign to keep people from voting. Only 26 percent of eligible voters took part in the 1991 election.

This time, a coalition of opposition parties mounted a similarly visible anti-election campaign, posting notices saying, ``Do not vote″ or ``I boycott.″

But the boycotts have also led to weak performances when the opposition candidates participate. In National Assembly elections earlier this year, opposition candidates won only nine of 111 seats.

Initial results from Sunday’s vote were expected Wednesday, final results on Nov. 29.

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