Burundi: a presidential election in a tense atmosphere



Shortly before the opening of polling stations for the presidential election, violence erupted Tuesday morning in Burundi.

The vote promises high voltage. 3.8 million Burundians are called to the polls on Tuesday for an election that should result in a third term of President Pierre Nkurunziza . An election without suspense, boycotted by the opposition, but set in an electric atmosphere.

An explosion followed by gunfire were heard Tuesday morning shortly before the opening of polling stations in the district of Musaga, according to an AFP journalist and several residents. Throughout the night other incidents took place in the capital. Two people died, one policeman killed by a grenade and a civilian shot dead in unknown circumstances, in Bujumbura.


A poll boycotted by the opposition

The Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-moon called on the Burundian authorities to “do everything to ensure the security and the peaceful conduct” of the presidential election. He invited “all parties to refrain from committing any violence that could jeopardize the stability of Burundi and the region.”

The poll was boycotted by the opposition, which denies the right to President Pierre Nkurunziza, elected in 2005 and 2010 to seek re-election and denounced a “sham election”. Despite calls from the international community, the African Union and the countries of the region, who feel that the current climate does not allow a credible poll, the Burundian authorities refused to postpone the election beyond July 21.

A country plunged into crisis

The announcement in late April of the candidacy of Pierre Nkurunziza to a new mandate, in violation according to opponents of the Constitution and the Arusha Agreement, sparked a protest movement interspersed with violence having made ​​at least 80 dead.

The Burundian authorities have foiled a military coup in mid-May and dammed in mid-June a half months of almost daily demonstrations in Bujumbura, cracking down brutally. But they faced a series of grenade attacks and battles and skirmishes opposed for ten days the army rebels in the north.