Burkina Faso announced the historic election of Roch Marc Christian Kabore as its first new President in nearly 30 years.
According to the New York Times, citizens of the West African country formerly known as the Republic of Upper Volta voted the former Prime Minister and longtime government official into office with a landslide decision on August 29.
“The people of Burkina Faso have decided to take control of their destiny,” said new 58-year-old President Elect Kabore of the one-sided win in which he claimed 75 percent of the voting precincts, according to data collected by Burkina’s Independent National Electoral Commission and posted by the New York Times.
Meanwhile, Yahoo and other news outlets are reporting that the popular candidate — who is widely perceived as an agent of change in the war against poverty in Burkina Faso — pulled in 53.5 percent of Presidential votes, while his closest opponent, Zephirin Diabre, was just under 30 percent.
Just as significant, however, is that President Kabore is the country’s first elected leader since Blaise Compaore — who was deposed in an October 2014 coup — was elected in 1988. The New York Times also noted that Compaore’s downfall came after several attempts to alter Burkina’s constitution to extend his Presidential reign.
“The transparent elections in Burkina are a victory over the forces of evil,” said Movement of People for Progress youth secretary Abdoulaye Mosse in a quote posted by the Times, noting that the vote should ideally send a message to other parties that attempt to seize power.
New President Kabore previously filled various positions in Compaore’s cabinet, and is now leader of the Movement of People for Progress. A 2012 dispute led to his ousting from his alliance with the former President. He was also considered instrumental in this uprising. Under the former President, Kabore served as President of the National Assembly, Minister of State, and Special Advisor to the President, the New York Times noted.
In his campaign, the candidate had promised to build “a new Burkina Faso” through various efforts to cut employment, improve education, and modernize the health system. All were regarded as key points, Yahoo noted, as the majority of the country’s population is poverty stricken.
“We must get to work immediately,” said the new President Elect, according to Yahoo. “Together we must serve the country to open up opportunities for a better tomorrow.” Kabore also revealed that he planned to “get to work immediately.”
The Web site also noted, meanwhile, that citizens of Burkina must now await the results of Parliamentary elections, which are due out as early as today, to determine exactly how much power President Kabore will hold to actually implement change.
For now, however, many of the country’s citizens are believed to be enthusiastic about the change.
“We have a new president, we hope he succeeds in his mission in the interests of the people who rose up and in the interests of all of Burkina Faso’s people,” said Harouna Kabore, who Yahoo noted serves as a spokesperson for a number of civil rights groups behind the 2014 coup.
Yahoo also reported that approximately 25,000 security force members were deployed at various polling locations in light of rising political unrest, recent suspected jihadist attacks on police barracks, and the hijacking of a van carrying money from a gold mine. No disruptions are believed to have occurred.
According to polling data collected by the Independent Electoral Polling Commission, as many as three million of Burkina Faso’s 18 million citizens cast ballots. The Congress for Democracy and Progress — which is the party line towed by former President Blaise Compaore — was barred from fielding a candidate in the election.
[Image via Education permanente]