BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI - Results from Burundi’s presidential election show the incumbent, Pierre Nkurunziza, has won a third five-year term. Nkurunziza got 69 percent of the vote in a poll boycotted by the opposition, which said the president's bid for re-election was unconstitutional.
The head of country’s electoral body read out the results Friday from Burundi's 18 provinces. When the totals were added up, they showed Nkurunziza won with 69 percent of the vote, followed by Agathon Rwasa with 19 percent.
The United States and Britain have condemned Tuesday's vote as not credible due to pre-election violence, alleged intimidation of opposition groups and questions over whether the president is violating the constitution's two-term limit.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement Friday that the United States is "deeply disappointed" by Nkurunziza's "use of undemocratic means to maintain power through an electoral process that was neither credible nor legitimate."
Solid turnout touted
Earlier this week, a former Burundian president, Domicien Ndayizeye, urged the international community to reject the election results.
Nkurunziza won 16 out of the country's 18 provinces. The 51-year-old former rebel leader lost only Rumonge province and Bujumbura, the capital, which has seen months of protests since he announced plans to run for a controversial third term in April.
According to the election commission, 2.8 million voters out of 3.8 million registered voters cast their ballots.
Electoral commission chief Pierre Claver Ndayicariye said he is happy with the turnout.
“The 21st July, the presidential poll, many Burundian citizens went to vote. So I conclude that Burundi citizens want really to consolidate the democratization process and this is a positive step,” said Ndayicariye.
Many other Burundians said they are not so pleased. Earlier this week, former president Domicien Ndayizeye called on international leaders to reject the election results.
The opposition asserts Nkurunziza is breaking the two-term limit set in the constitution and the Arusha Accords that ended Burundi's civil war.
The president and his supporters argue that a third term is permitted because he was elected by parliament, not voters, for his first term in 2005.
In the past three months, more than 100 people have been killed in clashes between protesters and police, and more than 170,000 have fled to neighboring countries. A group of military officers tried to overthrow the government but failed.
Nevertheless, the election chief told VOA his country had a peaceful environment to carry out the election.
“Where do you have peace totally? In Burundi. Everywhere in the provinces there is peace, there is security. Those who say there is no security they are talking about another country, not Burundi,” said Ndayicariye.
Ndayicariye admitted, though, there were some challenges in conducting the election.
“There is so much interference when African country is holding an election, but we are prepared to manage this kind of challenges,” he said.
The constitutional court will announce the confirmation of the final results next week. In May, the same court ruled that Nkurunziza was eligible to run for a third term.