Burundians electing Parliament in poll overshadowed by violence

2015-06-29 12:04
File: AP

File: AP

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Bujumbura - Polling stations opened in Burundi Monday for parliamentary elections overshadowed by violence, boycotted by the opposition and criticised by the international community.

Bujumbura was largely quiet as voting got under way although voters were turning up at some polling stations.

The East African country has seen two months of violent protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza's campaign for a third term in the presidential election scheduled for July 15.

Protesters said Nkurunziza's bid to seek another five-year term violates the constitution.

Human rights groups said about 80 people have been killed in the demonstrations. The capital has also seen a string of grenade attacks.

Tense atmosphere

About 3.8 million people had registered to vote for the 106 members of Parliament, in which the ruling CNDD-FDD currently has 81 seats.

The opposition said it is boycotting the elections and does not want its supporters to vote.

The voting was taking place in a tense atmosphere after three people were killed in Bujumbura at the weekend. Opposition parties said several of their representatives had been arrested.

The speaker of Parliament, Pie Ntavyohanyuma, said Sunday that he had fled to Belgium and criticized Nkurunziza's bid for a third term. Other high-ranking officials have also fled, including Vice President Gervais Rufyikiri and members of the electoral commission and the Constitutional Court.

Many Bujumbura residents left for neighbouring Rwanda because of fears of election violence.

The United Nations, African Union, East African Community, European Union and United States have all called on the government to postpone the elections.

Necessary conditions

The African Union said on Sunday it would not observe the elections, because "the necessary conditions are not met for the organisation of free, fair, transparent and credible elections".

The opposition and human rights activists accused the ruling party's youth wing, the Imbonerakure, of attacking government opponents. More than 100 000 people have fled the violence to neighbouring countries.

There is concern that the unrest could spark a new conflict between Burundi's majority Hutus and minority Tutsis, who represent 85 % and 15% in the population, respectively. An ethnically charged civil war killed about 300 000 people from 1993 to 2005.

The constitution gives the Hutus about 60% and the Tutsis 40% of the seats in Parliament.

Read more on:    au  |  pierre nkurunziza  |  burundi  |  east africa  |  burundi elections 2015

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