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Burundi Presidential Vote to Proceed Despite Opposition Boycott

U.N Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza in the capital, Bujumbura (file)

The chairman of Burundi’s Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) said preparations are far advanced ahead of the presidential election scheduled for 28th June despite the opposition decision to boycott the vote.

Pierre Claver Ndayicariye told VOA that the electoral body has a track record of organizing elections that both local and international observers have judged to be free and fair.

“We are a technical commission and our mission is to organize technically the elections. Today, we are preparing (for) the presidential election, which are scheduled on 28th of June 2010. We are really preparing (for) this election,” he said.

This comes after the last remaining opposition presidential candidate pulled out of the upcoming vote citing concerns the elections will be rigged in favor of incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Several opposition groups have accused the electoral body of failing to prevent fraud in last month’s district elections won by the ruling CNDD-FDD party with over 60 percent of the votes. The opposition parties have also demanded a re-run of the district elections after rejecting the results.

But, electoral chairman Ndayicariye said, despite the boycotts, the presidential election will proceed as originally planned.

“In 2005, we had (only) one candidate and the election was organized and in Burundi (it) is not the first time we have had a single candidate…they (the opposition) were invited to participate, but they said it’s not good to continue to proceed participating in this election. It’s their own political will,” Ndayicariye said.

Observers say the boycott will seriously undermine the credibility of the election and weaken Burundi’s fledgling democracy.

Incumbent President Nkurunziza is expected to win by a landslide if the opposition parties continue their boycott of the presidential vote.

Chairman Ndayicariye said Burundians should expect a transparent vote.

“The Burundi people today really are very, very keen in supporting peace reconciliation and security. Burundi people have got many lessons from the past. We will like to see political party leaders to work together to support the democratic process,” Ndayicariye said.

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, as well as other foreign diplomats, has called on the various opposition parties to reconsider their decision to boycott the 28 June election.