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Burkina Faso Heads to Elections Sunday


Politicians in Burkina Faso are in the homestretch ahead of general elections Sunday, when the country will choose a new president and parliament.

The elections come just over a year after mass protests ousted longtime leader Blaise Compaore. The resulting transition has been tumultuous at times, with elections postponed last month after a failed coup.

"A first-round knockout," shouts an entertainer in a double-decker truck. The truck, filled with orange-dressed supporters waving posters for presidential candidate Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, a front-runner, rolls down the streets of Ouagadougou.

Supporter Amadou Sinare says he supports Kaboré because he has the best program of all candidates in terms of health and employment.

The entrance of the headquarter of Burkina Faso's former ruling party, the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), in Ouagadougou, Nov. 27, 2015.

The entrance of the headquarter of Burkina Faso's former ruling party, the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), in Ouagadougou, Nov. 27, 2015.

The truck passes the burned-out headquarters of the CDP, the former ruling party under President Blaise Compaoré.

Mass protests ousted Compaore in October 2014 when he tried to change the constitution to extend his already 27-year rule.

Kaboré was a longtime Compaore ally and Cabinet member but left the president's side last year.

Candidate barred

Transitional authorities have barred from running anyone who supported Compaore's efforts to change the constitution. The CDP does not have a presidential candidate on the ballot.

Watching Kaboré's truck pass, however, CDP supporter Mathias Ouedraogo says they aren't sitting on the sidelines.

Ouedraogo says the CDP believes in democracy and that what is important is to reconcile all the Burkinabe. He says the party's priority is the parliamentary election, which are also happening Sunday.

An electoral poster of candidate Roch Marc Christian Kaboré is displayed on the streets of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Nov. 27, 2015.

An electoral poster of candidate Roch Marc Christian Kaboré is displayed on the streets of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Nov. 27, 2015.

Kaboré's main challenger is longtime opposition figure Zephirin Diabré.

At a rally in a stadium in Ouagadougou, Diabré said Kabore's program looks just like Compaore's.

"You want to move forward, or go backward?" he said. "Do you want a true change or a fake change?"

Twelve other candidates, including two women, are running.

Another front-runner among them is Bénéwendé Sankara, who says he is the political heir of former president and national icon, Thomas Sankara, killed during the coup that brought Compaore to power.

An electoral poster of candidate Zephirin Diabré is displayed on the streets of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Nov. 27, 2015.

An electoral poster of candidate Zephirin Diabré is displayed on the streets of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Nov. 27, 2015.

Political debates are also being held as voting day approaches. At a meeting at the University of Ouagadougou, people got up on stage and addressed the crowd of students, many of whom will vote for the first time Sunday.

One speaker said the students have a historic opportunity during which the popular masses will tame the politicians and make them respect the people's will, he says.

Students said they want the momentum for change to continue.

Bertin Tendrebiogo, 25, said they have been waiting for the election for so long that it is thrilling as voting day gets closer. This is a risky election, he says, and they are impatient, but they pray everything will go well.

Security will be tight for the poll, with 25,000 security personnel deployed around the country. Analysts say a second-round presidential run-off is likely.

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