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Burkina Faso President Kabore secures re-election, preliminary results show

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - Burkina Faso President Roch Kabore has won re-election by a comfortable margin, preliminary results showed on Thursday, after an election marred by insecurity that prevented swathes of the West African country from voting.

Some analysts had expected a closer contest on Sunday because of the president’s failure to contain a jihadist insurgency that has killed more than 2,000 people this year alone and forced a million people to flee.

However, poor turnout may have helped Kabore, as thousands of people in zones most affected by violence did not have access to polling stations. Just under 3 million people cast their ballot, about half the number of registered voters, official figures showed.

“I would like to take this opportunity to salute all those who have participated in this presidential election,” Kabore said in a speech at his party’s headquarters. “We are all Burkinabes aspiring to build together a better society for all the people.”

Kabore won 57.87% of the vote, the official tally from the electoral commission showed. He needed over 50% to avoid a second round. His two closest rivals, Zephirin Diabre and Eddie Komboigo, got 12.46% and 15.48%, respectively.

Kabore’s opponents have accused the Kabore camp of “massive fraud”, but the electoral commission has dismissed those claims and an international observer mission gave the election a mostly clean bill of health.

In a statement after the result, opposition members said that they reserved the right to pursue legal action, without providing details.

Kabore campaigned on achievements such as free healthcare for children under five and road building. But his successes were overshadowed by a series of large-scale attacks on civilians and the army.

More than 1,300 polling stations were closed in the north and east where groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State operate.

Reporting by Thiam Ndiaga, Aaron Ross, and Henry Wilkins; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Aaron Ross and Nick Macfie