Opposition Rejects President’s Re-Election Win

President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza. Image source defenceweb

President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza. Image source defenceweb

Burundian opposition parties that boycotted presidential elections rejected the results, which gave Pierre Nkurunziza a third term that opponents say is illegal.

A new vote should be held that gives politicians outside the ruling party the room to campaign freely with international observers monitoring the process, said Frederic Bamvuginyumvira, a spokesman for a group of 10 political parties, in a Friday phone interview. He said their struggle would continue until new elections are organized, without specifying any plans.

U.S. President Barack Obama also criticized Burundi’s elections, describing them as “not credible,” in a press conference held ysterday in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

Nkurunziza’s decision in April to stand again triggered a public backlash and an attempted military coup, which was quickly extinguished. Street demonstrations in the capital, Bujumbura, led to fighting with security forces, leaving at least 77 people dead and spreading fears that drove more than 170,000 refugees to neighboring countries.

Opponents say Nkurunziza, 51, is violating a two-term limit set out in 2005 peace accords that ended a 12-year civil war. Supporters argue that his first term doesn’t count because he was chosen by parliament rather than by popular vote.

“We are calling on the government and the opposition to come together in a dialogue that leads to a political solution to the crisis and avoids the loss of more innocent life,” Obama said Saturday, the second day of his two-country visit to East Africa.

The ruling CNDD-FDD has been clear that Nkurunziza plans to serve out his entire five-year term and any proposal to form a unity government would rely on the parties devising a compromise, Yolande Bouka, a Burundi researcher for the Institute for Security Studies, said in a phone interview

Rifts in the army have the potential for rising conflict, Bouka said. The country’s ex-intelligence chief, Godefroid Niyombare, led a group of military officers in the failed coup in May, calling for a political dialogue.

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