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Burundi Prepares to Vote

  • Peter Clottey

Presidential candidate 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 Burundi analyst says incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza’s legitimacy could be questioned if he wins Monday’s presidential vote after opposition parties decided to boycott the poll.

Ndikumana Methode said the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) should have resolved concerns expressed by opposition parties and postponed Sunday’s vote.

“The elections may go ahead in accordance to what the (ruling) CNDD-FDD wants. However, in my opinion I think it is rather unfortunate because it really takes Burundi a little back in (terms of) its democratic process. Because, we have seen so far in our history, all the elections were multi-party and multi-candidates,” he said.

Burundi’s opposition parties unanimously pulled out of the presidential election after accusing 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.

Opposition parties also demanded a re-run of the district elections after rejecting the results. But the electoral body, CENI said the presidential vote will proceed as originally scheduled.

Pierre Claver Ndayicariye, chairman of Burundi’s electoral body (CENI) 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 June 2010. We are really preparing (for) this election,” he said.

But analyst Methode said CENI should have addressed the opposition concerns before the vote.

“The committee in charge of elections should have looked into them, giving answers to them then maybe come to some kind of negotiation at local level before they went ahead with the election,” Methode said.

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

Analyst Methode said the opposition boycott weakens the credibility of the election.

“I think they do and yes the legitimacy is pretty much ion question. And I mean what is an election for (only) one man or one candidate or one party? I think they should have sat down and maybe postponed the election and maybe agree on a period of time so that any cloud is removed from this election,” Methode said.

Meanwhile, incumbent President Nkurunziza is expected to win by a landslide after opposition parties including his main challenger decided to boycott Sunday’s presidential vote.