Burundi’s ruling party wins troubled presidential election

Contested victory comes after campaign marked by claims of political violence

Evariste Ndayishimiye, Burundi’s victorious presidential candidate. Photograph: AFP via Getty

Evariste Ndayishimiye, Burundi’s victorious presidential candidate. Photograph: AFP via Getty

 

Burundi’s ruling party candidate, retired general Evariste Ndayishimiye, has won the presidential election with 69 per cent of votes cast, the electoral commission said on Monday, after accusations of rigging by the leading opposition challenger.

The commission said opposition candidate Agathon Rwasa received 24 per cent of votes. There was a turnout of 88 per cent.

Commission chairman Pierre Claver Kazihise said the turnout was “massive” and the election was peaceful.

However, the May 20th vote to replace President Pierre Nkurunziza was preceded by political violence including the arrest, torture and murder of opposition activists, according to a local rights group. There was also controversy over holding the election during the coronavirus crisis.

Hundreds of Burundians were killed and hundreds of thousands fled into exile after unrest surrounding the last election in 2015, when the opposition accused Mr Nkurunziza of violating a peace deal by standing for a third term.

Mr Rwasa has previously said he would take his complaints to the constitutional court, though it is packed with the president’s allies.

Neither Mr Rwasa nor Mr Ndayishimiye were immediately available for comment. Their parties were also unavailable.

Five other candidates also stood in the polls, in which 5.11 million registered voters were eligible to participate.

Economic growth is at a standstill and political violence is common. Between January and March, Ligue Iteka, an exiled Burundian rights group, documented 67 killings, including 14 extrajudicial executions and six disappearances.

There was no comment from the government, which previously denied accusations of rights violations. – Reuters