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Burundi Parliamentary Vote Begins Friday

Burundi's main opposition leader Agathon Rwasa sits underneath the portrait of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza during an interview with journalists in the south western Burundian town of Rumonge, 12 May 2010

A leading member of Burundi’s opposition Forces for National Liberation (FNL) has called on supporters of his party as well as other opposition parties to boycott the parliamentary election scheduled to begin Friday.

Jean-Bosco Habyarimana, spokesman for the FNL accused both President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government and the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) of undermining the credibility of the parliamentary vote.

“It was known that we will not participate in this election. You remember we rejected the results of the (local) election because of the fraud that characterized those elections. We requested for a dialogue in which we could maybe correct the problems and then try to get a solution but the government refused,” he said.

Burundi’s opposition groups rejected the results of the May 24 local elections, saying it was fraught with irregularities and voter intimidation. They demanded a re-run of the vote. But, the electoral commission refused, saying the election was transparent and credible.

Pierre Claver Ndayicariye, chairman of the electoral body said the parliamentary vote will continue as planned despite the opposition boycott.

But, opposition leader Habyarimana said his party will not participate in an election in which the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) is pre-determined to win.

“The one who refused us is the one who refused the dialogue so that we can correct the faults that characterized the community elections. He is the one who [prevented] us from continuing in the electoral process,” Habyarimana said.

He also described Friday’s vote as illegal.

“All what is being done is against the law,” he said.

Habyarimana said despite the boycott his party will continue to offer stiff opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government.