Burkina Faso president-elect pledges to go beyond reviving economy

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 01, 2015 8:46 AM

By Mathieu Bonkoungou

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - Burkina Faso's president-elect Roch Marc Kabore promised on Tuesday to tackle "fundamental needs" like sanitation as well as reviving an economy that has lost momentum in the 13 months since his veteran predecessor was toppled in a popular uprising.

Kabore served as prime minister and head of the National Assembly under Blaise Compaore, who was overthrown last year after trying to change the constitution to extend his 27 years in power.

His election on Sunday was a pivotal moment for the West African nation, which has been ruled by leaders who came to power in coups for most of its history since independence from France in 1960.

"We need to organize ourselves to take in hand the whole country's preoccupations because our first objective is not simply to revive the economy but at the same time to satisfy the fundamental needs of the whole population," Kabore told Reuters after being declared the winner overnight.

"The challenges are numerous and multiple in Burkina Faso. They include education, healthcare, access to clean water and the economy," he added in an interview.

Landlocked Burkina Faso produces cotton and gold but remains impoverished. Its economy has slowed due to lower global commodity prices and reduced investment during the democratic transition that began after Compaore fell.

The finance minister has said the economy will expand by 4 to 4.5 percent this year, compared to what the World Bank says was 6 percent growth in 2014.

STREET CELEBRATIONS

Kabore split with Compaore early last year and formed the opposition Movement of People for Progress (MPP), which was made up of disaffected former allies of the president.

Provisional results showed he won 53.5 percent of the vote to defeat former Finance Minister Zephirin Diabre, who scored 29.7 percent, and 12 other candidates. Turnout was about 60 percent.

Candidates and parties have seven days to contest the provisional figures and the constitutional court then has 15 days in which to publish definitive results. No one has yet challenged the results and Diabre has congratulated Kabore.

Crowds celebrated the result in the streets of the capital, Ouagadougou, honking car and motorbike horns.

The vote could serve as an example of democratic transition to other countries in Africa, where veteran rulers in Burundi and Congo Republic have found ways to extend their terms in office this year.

The election was pushed back from Oct. 11 because of an abortive coup in September by members of the elite presidential guard, in which transitional President Michel Kafando and his prime minister were taken hostage. Kafando will step down once the new leader is sworn in.

(Additional reporting by Nadoun Coulibaly; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)