Voters in the West African nation of Burkina Faso head to the polls in October to elect a new president and lawmakers from an unfairly restricted field of candidates.
President Michel Kafando this month signed into law a controversial new electoral code that bars from office individuals who supported efforts by former President Blaise Compaore’s to change Burkina Faso’s constitution to eliminate mandated term limits. The new law makes ineligible for the October 11 election those who had publicly backed the ex-president's plan, which was seen as a scheme to extend his 27-year rule. The country’s interim parliament voted in favor of the restrictions April 7, after seven of Compaore's political allies were arrested for alleged embezzlement.
Compaore's party, the Congress for Democracy and Progress, which holds a small minority in parliament, denounced the move as illegal, and suspended their participation in transitional institutions. That could further cloud prospects for national reconciliation after the political unrest that followed the term-limit controversy.
The United States is deeply concerned by the National Transitional Council’s adoption of changes to Burkina Faso’s electoral code. Denying individuals the ability to run for office because of their political views is inconsistent with basic democratic principles of freedom of expression, freedom of association, and free, fair and peaceful elections. We urge the transitional government, civil society, and other actors who were instrumental in defending these democratic principles when they were threatened in 2014 that the rights of all Burkinabe are defended and protected.