Burkina Faso’s elections are scheduled for November 22nd. However, rising violence from extremist organizations operating within the country pushed the government to change the electoral code so that in the event of “force majeure” or exceptional circumstances preventing the organization of elections in part(s) of the country, the election may continue based on the results of those polling stations that remain open.
The government has so far determined that over 17% of the voting precincts are unsafe amounting to more than 400,000 voters. The mass disenfranchisement of mostly rural voters disproportionately benefits the incumbent president, undermines the legitimacy of the election and creates additional opportunities for non-state actors to exploit divisions within the country. It also means opposition groups are likely to contest the election result.
Despite the opposition parties’ agreement to proceed with the election, even if many are unable to vote, the new electoral code overwhelmingly benefits the incumbent.
The areas deemed too dangerous to hold a vote are those most affected by violence, which is committed as much by President Kaboré’s own military and government-sanctioned self-defense groups (Koglweogo) as by extremist organizations. The new code silences the people who have the most to gain from new leadership.