“Voting got under way Sunday morning in Burkina Faso to elect a new president and parliament after a year of political turmoil.
“It is the first election since last year’s popular uprising which toppled long-standing president Blaise Compaore.
Security is tight with up to 25,000 troops expected to be deployed across the country.
The vote was due to have been held last month but was delayed by a failed coup in September led by members of the elite presidential guard.
The election is meant to mark the end of the transitional period following Compaore’s removal. Analysts say it could be the most open and democratic vote in the country’s history.
“For the first time in 50 years there is an electoral uncertainty… we don’t know the winner in aance,” said Abdoulaye Soma, head of Burkina Faso’s society of constitutional law.
“This is a positive point and a fundamental change from the other elections that we had seen earlier.”
Compaore was forced from office by street protests in October 2014 over his plans to serve another five-year term. He had been in power for 27 years.
A transitional government was installed but the country was thrown into turmoil again in September when members of the elite presidential guard led a short-lived coup. The attempt failed and the guard was disbanded.
Mr Compaore, 64, is now living in exile in neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire.
Fourteen candidates are standing for the presidency and reports suggest that Roch Marc Christian Kabore and Zephirin Diabre are the front-runners.
Economist Mr Diabre has served as minister of economy and finance before he fell out with Mr Campaore in 2010.
Mr Kabore served as prime minister and chairman of the Congress for Democracy and Progress party (CDP) before leaving the party in 2014, after opposing plans to extend Compaore’s rule.
If no candidate wins an absolute majority in the first round, a second round will be held.
Polls close at 18:00 GMT and provisional results should be known by Monday evening.
Ahead of the voting, the authorities announced the sealing of the country’s borders until December 1.
The landlocked country borders Niger, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Ghana.
Civil society groups in the country on Saturday slammed the Friday border closure which they said will impede over a million eligible voters living in neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire from returning home to vote.
An estimated five million voters are expected to vote in Sunday poll.
Meanwhile, 22 passengers have been killed while several were injured on Saturday when a minibus crashed into a dam in Burkina Faso.
The national broadcaster said Friday evening that the incident took place on Thursday night near the village of Kiebalogo, along the road leading to the country’s second largest city, Bobo-Dioulasso.
Most of the victims reportedly come from the same family and were travelling to attend a funeral ceremony.
SOURCE: AFRICA REVIEW