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Burundi election update (1 June 2010)

  • Published

    1 June 2010
  • Written by

    Peace Direct

I’d like also to share a bit on the situation in Burundi, one week after the district elections. The points below are based on conversations I’ve had with a different people including reporters, election observers and members of civil society who have followed the election closely.

  • The turnout was massive: 92 per cent, I think it’s among the records for participation in a free and fair election.
  • There were a number of logistic and organisational problems that caused the polls to be postponed twice, and even as the voting went ahead last Monday, some problems were observed here and there.
  • The result has been a total surprise for everyone, including the ruling CNDD-FDD party which didn’t expect to win by such a large margin (provisional results suggest they won around 70per cent of the vote). Of course the opposition has rejected the results claiming that there has been massive fraud. However, they have yet to provide any proof and all the observers, media, churches and civil society have not noticed anything suspicious or abnormal at a large scale during the vote and the counting. A few problems were noticed here and there, but nothing large enough to affect the overall trend.
  • There may have been intimidation, rumours and corruption of voters during the campaign. The ruling CNDD-FDD party has a lot of facilities and means, the current President has tried to be close to ordinary citizens as often as possible, playing football with them, participating in simple activities in remote areas to gain popularity. This means that some people could, for example, attend an opposition rally of the MSD or FNL, knowing they would be voting for the CNDD-FDD in the privacy of the voting booth.
  • Another point to be noticed is what I call the ‘Burundian cultural attitude’. It is really difficult to know what a Burundian is thinking deep in his or her heart, there is a kind of hypocrisy that can confuse you. One political party may think it has a lot of followers while in reality it’s not the case. Questioned for what party they will vote, many Burundians used to say: ”It’s our secret”. With such uncertainty, it is impossible to predict the result of an election.
  • Twelve opposition parties are now threatening to boycott the rest of the polls due to be held over the summer, and are demanding the electoral commission resign. But they are isolated in their protests, and I don’t think their demands will be heard.
  • On the ground, the situation is calm, with nothing alarming to mention. Let’s hope it will be like this for the rest of the electoral marathon and the Electoral commission will be able to clarify all the irregularities reported for a future free and transparent vote.

I hope this will contribute to enlighten you on the situation post-election. I will continue to keep you informed about this for a better understanding of the context in Burundi.

Landry, Amahoro Youth Club, Burundi



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