On 23 July 2010 Burundi’s parliamentary election was held, the third election in a series of five that are part of the country’s attempt to return to peace. They are the first elections held since the last rebel group lay down their arms in 2009, following a civil war that left an estimated 300,000 people dead in the four decades of independence since 1962.
President Pierre Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD party secured a majority of 82 per cent. There was only one opposition group, UPRONA, because the rest of the opposition boycotted the elections. Unfortunately the day saw a relatively low turnout of 66 per cent and more grenade attacks.
The parliamentary elections follow the Presidential election held on June 28, where only one candidate stood for election – the incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza. The rest of the candidates pulled out, claiming that the district elections held at the end of May were rigged and several of the opposition leaders have gone into hiding, including Agathon Rwasa the leader of the FNL – the last Burundian rebel group to disarm – or have been arrested and detained for several days.
Although the security situation in Burundi has improved since the last rebel group lay down their arms, it is still fragile. Both elections were held against the backdrop of daily grenade attacks, killing more than ten people. Grenades are cheap and easy to get, and both the government and the opposition have been linked to over 100 grenade attacks this year.
For Burundi to rebuild its economy and have a lasting peace, it is essential that the next two elections will be a success. However with violence surrounding the first three elections, turnout dropping each time, and the opposition parties withdrawing from the race, the political situation is frail.