Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Burundi: Votes counted as president seeks third term

Votes are being counted in Burundi, where there is tension over President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to stand for a third consecutive term.

Just under three-quarters of the country's 3.8m eligible voters turned out on Tuesday after a night of gunfire and explosions that claimed two lives.

The US State Department has joined critics saying the election lacks credibility.
The government accuses the opposition of provoking violent protests.

President Nkurunziza is running for a third term despite a limit of two terms in the constitution.
Two policemen were shot dead in the capital Bujumbura on Monday night, said Willy Nyamitwe, the president's chief communications adviser.

The body of an opposition official was found earlier on a road.

Election coverage: How it happened

The president's office described the latest protests as terrorist acts intended to disrupt the election.
In opposition areas of the capital, among the few who voted, many tried to wipe off the indelible ink on their fingers, fearing reprisals from opposition supporters.

Who is Pierre Nkurunziza?
Pierre Nkurunziza (16 September 2003)
Born in 1964
Rebel leader-turned president
Born-again Christian
Former sports teacher
Cycles and plays football
Married with two children
Father killed in ethnic violence in 1972

Why Burundi poll matters

Three minor opposition leaders are running for the presidency. Mr Nkurunziza's four main rivals, including Agathon Rwasa, boycotted the poll, but the electoral commission kept their names on the ballot paper.

The African Union (AU) did not send observers - the first time it has taken such a stance against a member state.

The US State Department and the European Union expressed concern that the elections were not free and fair.

At least 70 people have been killed in protests since Mr Nkurunziza announced in April that he was running for a third term.

In May, army generals opposed to his continuing rule failed to overthrow him in a coup.
An election official tallies ballots during counting for Burundi

Tensions between Burundi's ethnic Hutu majority - comprising some 85% of the 10.5 million population - and the country's Tutsi minority have flared up regularly since independence from Belgium in 1962.

Mr Nkurunziza led a Hutu rebel group fighting the Tutsi-dominated army until a peace deal led to him becoming president in 2005.

The Constitutional Court backed his argument that his first term in office did not count towards the two-term limit, as he was elected by MPs.


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