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Burundi Politicians Broadly Accept Ruling Party’s Win in Presidential Vote


Evariste Ndayishimiye (2nd R), Burundi's Presidential candidate of the ruling party CNDD-FDD, and his wife Angelique Ndayubaha (R) arrive to vote during the presidential and general elections at the Bubu Primary school in Giheta, May 20, 2020.

Burundian opposition figures have signaled their acceptance of election results showing the ruling party hanging on to the presidency, though some civil society groups continue to express concerns about how the election was run.

Last week, the Burundian Constitutional Court upheld the final election results as announced by the National Election Commission, showing General Evariste Ndayishimiye winning 68 percent of the vote.

Vital Nshimirimana, the chairperson of FORSCE, a coalition of civil society group, dismissed the entire election process, arguing that Burundians did not feel safe nor free to express their opinions after years of intimidation by the ruling party and its military wing, the Imbonerakure.

He also rejected the court decision, accusing the judges of lacking independence and impartiality.

“There was no surprise because it's under the orders of the government and a clique of powerful generals,” he told VOA Central Africa service.

Agathon Rwasa, presidential candidate of Burundi's main opposition party the National Congress for Liberty, speaks to media after filing a petition against the election results at the constitutional court in Bujumbura, May 28, 2020.
Agathon Rwasa, presidential candidate of Burundi's main opposition party the National Congress for Liberty, speaks to media after filing a petition against the election results at the constitutional court in Bujumbura, May 28, 2020.

But many Burundians were surprised by a sudden change of heart by the main opposition candidate Agathon Rwasa.

After Ndayishimiye was declared the winner, Rwasa said the results were fraudulent and vowed to take his case to the Constitutional Court and to the East African Community court of law.

However, in an exclusive interview with VOA Central Africa, Rwasa, the leader of CNL, was lukewarm at the prospect of pursuing the case.

“The CNL party will respect what the law says by doing what the law allows us to do. Also, we will monitor the new leaders to see where they will take the country,” he said.

Judge Charles Ndayiragije (C), President of Burundi's constitutional court, speaks during the final announcements of the country's general and presidential elections in Bujumbura, June 4, 2020.
Judge Charles Ndayiragije (C), President of Burundi's constitutional court, speaks during the final announcements of the country's general and presidential elections in Bujumbura, June 4, 2020.

Rwasa also said that he took note of Constitutional Court’s rejection of his case alleging that the elections were marred by massive fraud.

Asked about taking his case to the East African Community, Rwasa said “the plan remains in consideration” but added “the international community will never be able to solve Burundi’s problems.”

The main opposition alliance CNARED, whose majority of leaders are now in exile, echoed Rwasa by saying that it also takes note of the court’s confirmation of the election results.

Mames Bansubiye, CNARED official in charge of public relations and diplomacy, extended the alliance’s congratulations to president elect Evariste Ndayishimiye. He said that the decision by the Burundi Constitutional Court is irreversible and advised politicians to accept it.

“The court decision is final and all what we need to do is to accept the verdict and continue to demand that political reforms be slowly but surely implemented,” he said.

Gaston SIndimwo, the current first vice president who finished third in the election, alleged collusion between the ruling party and the election commission during the campaign but expressed acceptance of the court decision.

“The best way forward for Burundians is to do everything in their power to maintain peace and security. We also urge the new leader to realize that elections are behind us and now is the time for him to work for all Burundians,” he said.

Former Burundian president Sylvestre Ntibantunganya said that the court’s decision is final and urged politicians to work towards consolidating peace and unity.

“The only thing we Burundians need to do is to be patient and transcend our political and ethnic background to support the new leader, so he can accomplish what he said he would do for the country,” he said.

Agathon Rwasa finished second in the vote with 29 percent. SIndimwo, who represented the Uprona party, came in third with 1.6 percent.

The ruling CNDD-FDD party won 86 seats in the parliament while Agathon Rwasa has 32 seats and Gaston Sindimwo’s Uprona party has 2 seats.

President-elect Ndayishimiye will officially take office on August 20th. He succeeds President Pierre Nkurunziza, who is stepping down after three terms in office.

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