Eyes on Burundi: a contested victory

African Arguments

Since the elections in Burundi on 20th May, we have been in touch with our local contacts to hear what they think this important event means for the country. Here, we share reactions to the run up and aftermath of the elections, and recommendations for the new leader.

As expected, the CNDD-FDD and its candidate Évariste Ndayishimiye are the big winners of the presidential, legislative and municipal elections in Burundi, according to the results proclaimed by the Independent National Electoral Commission on Monday, 25th May. At 52, Évariste Ndayishimiye will therefore replace Pierre Nkurunziza of the same party in the supreme office with a score of 68.72% against 24.19% received by his main opponent, Agathon Rwasa.

This victory is, however, disputed by the main opposition party, the National Liberation Council, which denounced extensive fraud and numerous irregularities before, during and after the triple ballot.

These irregularities were confirmed by the few journalists and independent observers still present in Burundi. Agathon Rwasa said that the conditions for a fair and democratic election were far from being met.

 This victory is, however, disputed by the main opposition party, the National Liberation Council, which denounced extensive fraud and numerous irregularities before, during and after the triple ballot.

In the economic capital Bujumbura, the announcement of the results did not give rise to great outbursts of joy.

What next?

As our local contact comments, the challenges awaiting the president-elect are enormous.

If they manage to get rid of the influence of the cycle of CNDD-FDD generals who have held the country with an iron fist since 2005, Evariste Ndayishimiye will then be able to make gestures of openness towards the opposition, civil society and the media:

  • They must begin by managing a victory contested by a part of the electorate by putting an end to the acts of harassment and intimidation towards the opposition. His room for manoeuver vis-à-vis the outgoing president will be closely watched.
  • They must reassure and guarantee the reopening of political space and media plurality.
  • It is vital that they encourage the return of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled Burundi.
  • Finally, their efforts must be focussed on stopping the spread of COVID-19, a fight which which seems to have been relegated to the background.

Finally, their efforts must be focussed on stopping the spread of COVID-19, a fight which which seems to have been relegated to the background.

Vous pouvez lire une compte plus complète de notre correspondant local, en français, sur Peace Insight.

You can read a more detailed statement from our local correspondent, in French, on Peace Insight.

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