Burkina bars 2 ex-ministers from contesting presidency

Ouagadougou - Burkina Faso on Thursday barred its former foreign minister and former sports minister from contesting next month's presidential election on the grounds that they had backed ex-president Blaise Compaore's failed bid to cling to power last year.

Compaore was driven from power in October by street protests after he tried to change the constitution to allow him to extend his 27-year rule. The October 11 election will return the country to democratic rule after a year-long transition.

Thursday's decision by the Constitutional Council was based on an April revision of the electoral law that excluded any candidate who supported Compaore's effort to extend his rule.

It reduces the number of candidates for next month's presidential vote to 14.

The council excluded former foreign minister Djibril Bassole, regarded as one of the front-runners, and former sports minister Yacouba Ouedraogo.

They were barred after three other candidates complained that the men took part in an October 21, 2014 cabinet meeting to draft a law that would have removed a term limit from Burkina's constitution.

Attempts to pass that law in parliament led to massive street demonstrations on October 30, 2014 which toppled Compaore from power.

Former prime minister Roch Marc Kabore, a long-time stalwart of Compaore's government who split away last year to found the opposition People's Movement for Progress (MPP), is widely regarded as a front-runner for the vote, alongside former finance minister Zephirin Diabre.

The regional court for the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) has ruled that the change to the electoral law contravened democratic rights, but Burkina Faso's constitutional council has ignored its ruling.

While Ecowas is the highest appeal tribunal in the region, it lacks the power to enforce its decisions.

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