Burundi’s Nkurunziza wins elections

Burundian incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza wins third term elections as predicted while opposition boycotts polls

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Burundian incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza won a third, five-year term as president in spite of the bloody confrontations since last April when he announced his intention to run for a third term.

The country's electoral commission announced Nkurunziza’s victory on Friday, after a vote marred by violence and  boycott by the opposition.

Pierre Claver Ndayicariye, head of the electoral commission, told reporters Nkurunziza had won 69.41 percent of the votes cast. Nkrunziza's nearest rival, Agathon Rwasa, took 18.99 percent.

The polls started on Tuesday, the controversial presidential elections that crowned months of violent protests killing dozens, and skepticism over the legitimacy of Nkurunziza’s choice to run for third term clouded the scene.

Two people died overnight, including a police officer and a civilian, hours before the ballot boxes opened on Tuesday.

Ndayicariye said the election turnout was considerably weak in Bujumbura and southwestern Bururi province, but gave an overall figure of 74 percent of the 3.8 million eligible voters in Burundi to be present at ballot boxes.

Nkurunziza's main rival, Agathon Rwasa, is registered as an independent candidate because his political party, the National Liberation Forces (Forces pour la Libération Nationale, FNL) is not recognised by the government. Several opposition parties have announced they’ll boycott the elections.

Another opposition figure, Jean Minani, accused the government of being "very irresponsible."

Nkurunziza’s supporters claim he’s eligible for a third term because he was chosen by legislators - and not popularly elected - for his first term, and the country’s constitutional court ruled in his favour, maintaining the legal status for his third term bid.

"The Burundian people are allowed to vote or to choose someone they believe in," said Nkurunziza to reporters as he arrived to vote in his home village of Buye on bike.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, has called on authorities to do all in their power to ensure security and a peaceful atmosphere during the election.

"He [Ban] further calls on all parties to refrain from any acts of violence that could compromise the stability of Burundi and the region," his spokesman said in a statement on his behalf.

The bloody unrest over Nkurunziza’s third term bid sparked violent protests and plunged the country in an unprecedented crises since the end of the civil war in 2006, which killed over 300,000 people.

Tensions in Burundi have forced more than 150,000 people to flee this year to neighbouring African nations. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Monday about a thousand people were fleeing each day into Tanzania, fearing their country may again sink in dangerous unrest.

A failed coup attempt was staged by army generals in May while the president was abroad, most of whom were later arrested after Nkurunziza returned  to the capital to reclaim his office.

A peace deal let Nkurunzıza to become president in 2005, after he led a Hutu rebel group fighting the Tutsi dominated army.

Burundi's is a Hutu majority country - comprising some 85 percent of the 10.5 million population - and Tutsi minority who have flared up regularly since independence from Belgium in 1962.

TRTWorld and agencies