Burkina Faso’s Kabore extends election lead as opposition alleges fraud

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Burkina Faso’s Kabore extends election lead as opposition alleges fraud

Burkina Faso President Roch Kabore held a large lead on Tuesday in early results from the weekend’s election, as opposition members of the electoral commission boycotted the process following allegations of fraud.

The results declared by the commission, known as CENI, from 37 out of roughly 360 districts nationwide showed Kabore with over 235,000 votes, more than three times as many as his nearest rival, former finance minister Zephirin Diabre. The CENI resumed announcing results district by district after a more than 24-hour pause caused by opposition objections.

The standoff further complicates an election already troubled by threats from Islamist militants. Hundreds of thousands of citizens were unable to cast ballots on Sunday because their polling stations were closed for fear of violence. CENI president Newton Ahmed Barry said the opposition’s five representatives on the 15-person commission raised concerns that some districts had not produced manual vote tallies to accompany electronic tallies, as required by law.

He said he thought the matter had been resolved but that following a news conference on Monday afternoon, at which opposition parties alleged fraud, the five commission members did not show up for work on Tuesday. Barry said the five had provided no formal reason for their absence and that the remaining CENI members had decided to resume announcing results.

The boycotting commission members could not be immediately reached for comment. Barry has denied the fraud allegations. The election will go to a second round if no candidate receives over 50% of the vote.

Kabore, who won election in 2015, has said the vote went smoothly. The 63-year-old president campaigned on achievements such as free healthcare for children under the age of five and vowed to do more to address rising insecurity.

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