Burkina Faso’s main opposition leader Zephirin Diabre on Saturday promised “real change” in the insurgency-hit country, after being chosen as his party’s candidate in a November presidential election.
Diabre — a veteran politician — came second with almost 30 percent of the vote in the 2015 presidential vote, won by Roch Marc Christian Kabore.
Kabore has put himself up for re-election after five years of jihadist insurgency in the West African nation, despite growing criticism that he has failed to tackle the menace.
“I solemnly swear here and now to invest my name, my body and soul in the fight for the renaissance of Burkina Faso,” said 61-year-old Diabre, after accepting his party’s nomination.
“Five years ago, the Burkinabes made the grave mistake of entrusting their destiny to the MPP … and its allies,” he said.
“Like all Burkinabes disappointed by the MPP’s management, we want change and real change,” he said.
The decision came after a congress attended by 5,000 party faithful assembled in a sports hall in the capital Ouagadougou.
The country is one of the world’s poorest and the insurgency has seen more than 1,100 lives lost and nearly a million people forced from their homes.
According to UN data, jihadist and inter-communal violence was to blame for 4,000 deaths last year in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
A minister under former president Blaise Compaore in the 1990s, Diabre went into opposition in 2011 and founded the UPC.
However the opposition is split ahead of the presidential vote, which plays into Kabore’s hands, according to analysts, despite the catastrophic jihadist violence in the country.