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Burkina opposition candidate alleges ‘massive fraud’ ahead of Sunday vote

Opposition leader and presidential candidate Zephirin Diabre gives a press conference ahead of the presidential and legislative elections in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on November 21, 2020. REUTERS-Media Colibaly

Burkina Faso’s opposition candidate Zephirin Diabre said that President Roch Kabore is orchestrating “massive fraud” to secure re-election in Sunday’s presidential vote, and that he will not accept results marred by irregularities.

Diabre, a 61-year-old former finance minister, is one of the main challengers in a field of 12 seeking to topple Kabore in Burkina Faso’s second democratic elections since the 2014 revolution.

Diabre told a news conference on Saturday that ruling party agents are paying women in markets to hand out voting cards so that someone else can vote for them. He waved aloud a video on his mobile phone that allegedly showed this was happening, but did not provide further evidence of wrongdoing.

Diabre said his party will file a complaint with the state prosecutor’s office and asked the electoral commission to end the practice.

“The massive nature of the phenomenon can undermine the serenity and integrity of the results of the November 22 elections,” Diabre said.

Kabore’s MPP party chairman Simon Compaore called the accusations “false.”

Representatives of the electoral commission did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The head of a mission from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), who arrived to meet with opposition members as Diabre’s conference ended, said he had seen no evidence of fraud.

“We have been fortunate to witness a very calm and gentlemanly campaign. We are not concerned about fraud, ”former Guinea Prime Minister Kabine Komara told Reuters.

Analysts expect a close race between Kabore, Diabre and another candidate, Eddie Komboigo, with the possibility of a runoff if no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote on Sunday.

At least 400,000 people, or almost 7% of Burkina Faso’s electorate, will not be able to vote due to an Islamist insurgency linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State that has forced a million people to flee.

By order of the electoral commission, polling stations will not be opened in hundreds of villages heavily affected by the attacks in the north and east.

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