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Burkina Faso Opposition Leader Forced to Run for President


One of Burkina Faso's main opposition leaders is protesting a Supreme Court ruling on the status of his candidacy in upcoming presidential polls. The candidate, the son of the country's first post-independence president, has changed his mind about running, but says he is not being allowed to withdraw from the race.

Burkina Faso opposition leader, Hermann Yameogo is not fighting to get on the November 13 presidential ballot. He wants to be taken off.

But Mr. Yameogo's name and party logo, the Supreme Court says, will appear on the ballot alongside 12 other presidential contenders, including incumbent Blaise Compaore.

Mr. Yameogo was among several opposition candidates attempting to have President Compaore barred from running for another term. They argued that a recently added constitutional article limiting the president to two terms in office prohibits Mr. Compaore from seeking re-election.

President Compaore originally seized power in a military coup in 1987, before being elected twice.

A court in the capital, Ouagadougou, has given the go-ahead for Mr. Compaore's candidacy. And now, Mr. Yameogo says he is being denied his right to boycott in protest.

Mr. Yameogo's lawyer, Prosper Sarama says electoral law allows candidates to pull out of the race even in the second round of a presidential election. He says the Supreme Court has no legal grounds for refusing the same to a candidate who has not even begun to campaign.

"This affair is more political than legal," said Mr. Sarama. "Because you cannot force anybody to be a candidate against his will."

Local journalist Zoumana Wonogo says Mr. Yameogo is vowing to turn down state campaign funding and will not organize a campaign.

He says Mr. Yameogo's refusal to run will likely result in an extremely poor showing at the polls, and his standing as an opposition leader could suffer.

Mr. Compaore is heavily favored to win next month's poll. This is the first time he will face off against major opposition candidates. Opposition leaders boycotted his landslide victories in 1991 and 1998.

Candidates took to the campaign trail earlier this week as a two-and-a-half week campaign period officially opened.

Elections officials say more than four million Burkinabes will be eligible to vote in the polls.

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