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Burkina Faso Votes as Compaore Seeks his Fourth Term

Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Voters in Burkina Faso cast their ballots in an election today that is likely to extend the 23-year rule of Blaise Compaore as president of one of the world’s poorest countries.

Voting closed at 6 p.m. local time after polls opened at 6 a.m., Boris Edson Yameogo, a spokesman for the West African nation’s electoral commission said today. Results are likely within five days, the agency said last week.

“I am voting because I want change,” said Idrissa Tani, a 36-year-old a primary school teacher as she waited to cast her ballot in Ouagadougou, the capital. Tani wants the government to improve education, health care and agriculture.

Africa’s biggest cotton producer, landlocked Burkina Faso is “heavily dependent” on exports of fiber and of gold, according to the African Development Bank. Growth is projected to accelerate to 5.5 percent in 2011 from 5.2 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund said on Oct. 1.

Compaore, 59, “will win overwhelmingly again, but this time probably slightly less than the 80 percent he got last time,” said Oswald Felli, director of risk assessments at New York-based DaMina Advisors LLP. “Compaore is very likely going to want to continue the relative stability he has brought to the Burkina Faso economy,” he said in an e-mail Nov. 17. “He will focus on increasing gold production by creating attractive incentives for foreign investors.”

Gold Output

In June, Mines Minister Abdoulaye Abdoulkader Cisse said gold output would surge 60 percent to 20 metric tons this year and that the country wanted to lure companies including Colorado-based Newmont Mining Corp. and Brazil’s Vale SA. Avocet Mining Plc, based in London, operates the Inata gold mine in the country and Canada’s Endeavour Mining Corp. controls the Youga mine.

Cotton production may rise 29 percent to 195,950 tons during the 2010-11 harvest, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Compaore has ruled Burkina Faso since he seized power in 1987. In 2005, the country’s Constitutional Court allowed him to run for a third election, saying that new limits on the presidential term were not retroactive, according to the U.S. State Department. In August, Compaore’s ruling Congress for Democracy and Progress proposed scrapping term limits.

Burkina Faso is ranked 161st out of 169 countries on the United Nations’ Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy, education and income.

The president “must develop agriculture because it employs 80 percent of our population,” said 56-year-old Mariam Yoni, a retired agricultural agent as she voted in the capital today. Reform in health care and education needs acceleration, she said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Simon Gongo in Ouagadougou via Accra at ebowers1@bloomberg.net; Nicky Smith in Johannesburg at nsmith38@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.

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