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article imageBurundi: lone presidential candidate elected with low turnout

By Ann Garrison     Jul 5, 2010 in Politics
The Associated Press (AP) reported on July 2nd, 2010, that "Burundi's electoral commission says the lone candidate in the country's presidential election has won by a landslide." Burundian opposition groups boycotted the May 28th election.
The AP also reported that Burundi's National Electoral Commission said that the lone candidate, Pierre Nkurunziza, got 91% of the vote, with a 77% voter turnout. If the National Electoral Commission is telling the AP the truth, then 9% of 77%, which is 6.93% of eligible Burundian voters, went to the polls, where the presidential election was the only election, but declined to vote for the only candidate.
Pierre Nkurunziza  President of the Republic of Burundi  at the World Economic Forum on Africa in 20...
Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi, at the World Economic Forum on Africa in 2008. Nkurunziza was the lone candidate on the ballot when re-elected on May 28, 2010.
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NTVKenya, the BBC, the London Guardian, and, and World AP, all disagreed with Burundi's National Electoral Commission. They report low turnout.
NTV Kenya explained that those who voted for incumbent and lone candidate Nkrunziza had put their ballots in white envelopes in white boxes and that those who did not vote for the incumbent put their ballots in black envelopes in black boxes. NTV Kenya also filmed voters dropping their ballots into the white and black boxes, demonstrating that Burundians did not enjoy secret ballot protection.
Speaking to NTVKenya, Nkrunziza urged Burundians to exercise their right to vote, even though he was the only presidential candidate to vote for, and said that the political parties had no right to interfere.
Burundi's politics, in many ways, mirror those of neighboring Rwanda, especially in that the division between a Tutsi ruling elite and a Hutu majority has inspired many years of civil war and violent conflict, including tragic civilian massacres. In Burundi, as in Rwanda, the ruling party commonly dismisses the political opposition as "political."
On the same day as the lone-candidate presidential poll, Burundi's main opposition leader and former rebel leader Agathon Rwasa, a Hutu militia leader during the 1993-2005 Burundi Civil War, confirmed, in a tape sent to a local radio station, that he had gone into hiding in the Democratic Republic of Congo, fearing for his safety.
This was the second major vote since the end of the 1993 to 2005 civil war, and many observers feel that a lone candidate election with what most sources report as low turnout, suggests that
Burundi  in the Great Lakes region of Africa.
Burundi, in the Great Lakes region of Africa.
Wikimedia Commons
power is not being shared in Burundi and that the election does not promise sustained peace.
Despite its own fragile and partial peace, including grenade blasts before, on, and after the May 28th poll, Burundi contributes forces to an African Union "peacekeeping" mission in Mogadishu, Somalia, with support from AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command.
On July 5th, the East Africa bloc promised to send 2,000 more troops to back up the 6,100 Ugandan and Burundian troops defending the Somalian government, reported to be surrounded and close to failing in Mogadishu.
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