In the middle of a pandemic, Burundi organizes general elections with high risk

Seven candidates are on their way to the Burundi presidential election on Wednesday, including the dolphin appointed by President Pierre Nkurunziza, General Évariste Ndayishimiye, and the leader of opposition agent Agathon Rwasa. The vote, organized despite the Covid-19 pandemic, will also elect deputies and the municipal council.

About 5.1 million Burundians are called on Wednesday, May 20, to elect their new president, their deputies and their municipal councilors. A survey conducted during the Covid-19 pandemic and at the end of a campaign spurred violence and arbitrary arrests.

These general elections, arbitration by an election commission accused by the opposition of being acquired in power, will take place behind closed doors. The government has rejected any observation mission for the UN or the African Union. The polling stations would be open from 04:00 GMT to 02:00 GMT. Provisional results are expected on Monday or Tuesday.

The vote will mark the end of the Pierre Nkurunziza era, head of the country since 2005, and not running for re-election. His candidacy for a controversial third term in 2015 had thrown his country into a serious political crisis, which had left at least 1,200 dead and led to the exodus of 400,000 Burundians. In particular, the presidential election will put his designated dolphin, General Évariste Ndayishimiye, at the center of opposition leader Agathon Rwasa.

No containment

Unlike Ethiopia, which postponed the elections in August due to the new coronavirus pandemic, the Burundian government has chosen to keep them at all costs. Not only has the country not imposed the restriction of its approximately 11 million inhabitants, but electoral fever has resulted in the gathering of thousands of people without social distance measures.

At the beginning of the health crisis, the government assured that the country was protected by “divine grace.” He officially lists 42 cases for a single death, but is accused by on-site doctors of minimizing the seriousness of the situation. He even had the World Health Organization team responsible for giving him advice on the epidemic that expired last week.

Seven candidates are running

Seven candidates are in the running. Évariste Ndayishimiye, 52, presented by CNDD-FDD as “heir” of Pierre Nkurunziza, is a general from seraglio, a veteran as his mentor in the Hutu rebellion of CNDD-FDD who fought during the Burundian civil war (1993-2006, dead 300,000) ) against the army, dominated by the Tutsi minority.

Agathon Rwasa, 56, is from the country’s oldest rebel movement (Palipehutu-FNL), one of the two most important rebel groups during the civil war. In the eyes of the Hutus, who represent 85% of the population, Agathon Rwasa has as much legitimacy to seek the presidency as his rival on the CNDD-FDD.

The future president, elected for a seven-year term, will be invested in August, at the end of Pierre Nkurunziza’s term. The latter, which was elevated to the rank of “sovereign guide for patriotism” in February by the National Assembly, will remain chairman of the party’s council for the elderly, the body that makes the most important decisions.

With AFP