Saturday, 21 November 2015

BF Presidential Elections - the other candidates

With 14 candidates for the presidential elections on Nov 29, and the field so dominated by just two candidates, who are the others, and why are they running?

A few are well-known, long-standing opponents of the previous regime who have been campaigning for change and offer an alternative (for better or worse) to business as usual. Others are unknowns, who stand no chance of being elected. It may be that they are trying to make themselves known, positioning themselves as power-brokers in the event of a run-off, or for future political influence. Or, more cynically, it has been suggested some could just be in it for the 25 million cfa (about £30,000) given by the government for each presidential candidate to help them run their campaigns!

Here are some very short sketches of some of the better-known other candidates:

Bénéwendé S. Sankara (UNIR / PS). Sankara is a lawyer who has stood against Compaore’s regime for 15 years, running twice against him in presidential elections. He was third-placed in a recent poll, with 8%. Sankara represents a group of « Sankarist » parties, promoting the values espoused by ex-president Thomas Sankara, killed in a coup d’etat in 1997, (though he is not actually related). Preceived as the « defender of lost causes », he has been a key lawyer in the investigation of both the Norbert Zongo affair and the Thomas Sankara dossier. He claims that he played a key role in the insurrection against Compaore that brought people onto the steets and resulted in Compaore’s downfall.

Saran Sérémé (PDC) is one of two women seeking the presidency, A businesswoman who moved into politics, Sérémé left the CDP in 2012, and moved into opposition. In 2014, she helped organise a women's march ("the revolt of spatulas”) against Compaore’s proposed constitutional amendment., and became the face of the revolt that brought his downfall. She was suggested as a possible president for the transitional government.

Tahirou Barry (PAREN). Another lawyer, another long-standing opponent and thorn in the flesh of ex-president Compaore. Even in his youth, he got himslef arrested after he infiltrated the committee discussing bringing the African Nations Cup to Burkina in 1998, denouncing "the madness of injecting billions into a game when the vast majority of the population languishes in poverty". He  worked as a journalist then lawyer, and also did teaching at the university before being selected as president of the party PAREN

Ram Ouédraogo (RDEBF). Founder of the first Green party of Burkina, Ram was a Compaore minister 1999, then MP, before leaving to create his party in 2005. He ran against Compaore twice in presidential elections, but gained only 2% of the vote in 2005.

Ablassé Ouédraogo (Faso Autrement):  A previous minister of Foreign Affairs in Compaore’s government from 1994-1999, Ouedraogo is a recognised economist. He subsequently worked in various international institutions such as the World Trade Organisation, and then became a mediator in various African crises. His party, Faso Autrement, describes itself as « centrist liberal ». He was heavily criticised for saying that two of the best reasons for him to become president were that he is Mossi and that he is a Muslim. This led to calls to not make the election about race or religion.

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