Burundi to elect MPs in one-sided vote

2010-07-22 10:22

Burundi’s ruling party is assured of victory in tomorrow’s

parliamentary polls, the latest instalment in an electoral marathon marred by

fraud allegations, violence and an opposition boycott.

The central African state had hoped to prove its democratic

credentials and consolidate a fledgling peace deal, but earlier polls in May and

June have left the political landscape in ruins and heightened fears of renewed

civil strife.

Voters will elect 100 legislators for the lower house of parliament

in the last major voting in the country’s marathon election process.

President Pierre Nkurunziza’s ruling CNDD-FDD party is guaranteed a

comfortable win as it will only be challenged by allied parties and a small

opposition movement from the Tutsi minority.

The country’s main opposition parties have boycotted the electoral

process since the results of the May 23 local council vote, which they charged

was rigged by Nkurunziza’s government.

The young leader subsequently won more than 90% of the vote in the

June presidential election.

Former rebel leader Agathon Rwasa, who had been regarded as his

main rival, went into hiding and later explained in an audio message that he

feared for his life after claiming the polls were fixed.

“The electoral process in Burundi has been completely derailed and

this country is ending up under the control of a party with authoritarian

tendencies,” said a Western diplomat in Bujumbura.

Campaigns for the legislative ballot which ended Tuesday only saw

the ruling party and the Tutsi-dominated UPRONA party woo the electorate.

A string of grenade attacks and the arrest of more than 100

opposition supporters and officials – some of whom are believed to have been

tortured – in recent weeks have also increased tension around Burundi’s

elections.

Ruling party spokesperson Onesdine Nduwimana rejected the

claims.

“All this is false. The CNDD is a democratic party which fought for

the establishment of democracy in Burundi,” he told AFP.

He added that those arrested were threatening public order and that

there was no political motive.

Leonard Nyangoma, the spokesman of a 12-member opposition umbrella

group boycotting the elections, said:

“Burundi’s electoral process since the local polls is a total

failure.”

“This according to us also means that the peace process in Burundi

is failing.”

Burundi embarked on a painstaking peace process a decade ago to end

an ethnically-driven civil war that erupted in 1993 and claimed some 300 000

lives.



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