Burundi polls: Campaign begins

2010-07-08 10:12

Bujumbura - Campaigning for the July 23 legislative elections in Burundi got under way on Wednesday with the electoral commission saying it is not too late for the opposition to join the fray.

Three political parties, including the ruling CNDD-FDD, have registered to participate but the 12-party Democratic Alliance for Change (ADC) is boycotting the vote after pulling out of the earlier presidential contest.

That race at the end of June saw Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza - the only candidate - re-elected with 91.62% of the vote and EU observers deploring the absence of competition.

"We are ready to welcome all parties who come forward between now and July 9," Prosper Ntahorwamiye, a member of the National Independent Electoral Commission, said.

The deadline for putting forward candidates has been put back three times by the commission, he said, in order "to keep the door open in response to requests from numerous partners".

Besides the CNDD-FDD, the only parties registered for the legislative election are the Frodebu-Nyakuri and Uprona, the main Tutsi party which had boycotted the presidential vote.

The opposition pulled out of the presidential vote in protest over the CNDD-FDD's sweeping victory in local elections on May 24, which it alleged was tainted by widespread fraud.

Its boycott and grenade attacks that left 12 dead and more than 70 injured, led to fears of a return of violence in Burundi as it strives to recover from a crippling 13-year civil war that ended four years ago.