Presidential election could lead to further violence


Burundi is holding its Presidential election today. Incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza was the only candidate in 2010 mainly because other candidates withdrew after a ‘campaign of intimidation’.

The constitution states that the President can only stand for two terms but in 2005 the President was elected by Parliament and not by the people. Therefore he has argued that the 2010 election was technically his first term and that he is entitled to stand again.

This has been rejected by the opposition who are boycotting the election. There has already been considerable violence with more than 150,000 people fleeing the country. Despite attempts by the Ugandan government to mediate between the opposition and Burundian government talks broke down on Sunday when the government side failed to turn up.

At a rally on Friday the President said “If you choose the CNDD-FDD [The President’s party] you are sure of five more years of peace.” He continued “Since the election of the CNDD-FDD in 2005, it is the first time since independence in 1962 that people haven’t been killing each other because of ethnicity.”

That may be true but when Pierre Nkurunziza wins the election, which he surely will, what happens next is the critical issue. At least one former General has said that his group will take up arms to get rid of the President and the chances are high that the country could return to civil war after ten years of peace.

Polling stations opened at 6 a.m. local time to the sound of gunfire in the capital.

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