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Burkina Faso Ruling Party Dominates Local Elections

Burkina Faso's ruling party has crushed other parties in elections for city and village councils, dashing the hopes of some opposition leaders the process would lead to more diversity in decision-making.

The ruling party of 18-year President Blaise Compaore won about 13,000 of the nearly 18,000 councilor seats in the April 23 local election.

More than 70 parties were competing.

While announcing the results, in the capital Ouagadougou, election head Moussa Michel Tatsoba said the process consecrated a move toward decentralization.

But he also expressed disappointment turnout was just 49 percent.

However, the mayor of Ouagadougou, Simon Compaore, no relation to the president, was overjoyed the ruling Congress for Progress and Democracy had done so well.

"We have 12,000 councilors. It is so much. It proves that we are very, very powerful. You have seen what we have done in this city. Can you see, can you imagine that we need to change? No, no sir," said Compaore.

Authorities denied accusations of foul play on election day, saying opposition parties should have competed better.

But a top official for the party that came in second with over 1,500 councilor seats, Belem Sidiki, alleges the foul play continues.

Sidiki says councilors from opposition parties are being threatened by local authorities to switch to the ruling party, saying their villages or cities will lose government development money, if they refuse to do so.

He cites examples from his own Alliance for Democracy and Federation.

In some parts of Burkina Faso, the opposition did win, like in the town of Banfora, which is near the border with Ivory Coast.

Former rebel leader Boukary Kabore says many Burkinabes were disillusioned before the vote even took place.

"My impression is that the people did not want to participate enough in the election, that is my first impression. I think it is not enough," commented Kabore. "The people are maybe getting tired of having no direction, no true direction, for development, that is it."

Kabore's party was one of more than 20 parties that won no seats at all. A handful of parties won just one seat.