BUJUMBURA, May 20 (Xinhua) — Burundi voters went to the polls on Wednesday to elect a new president, members of National Assembly and district councillors.
Polling stations opened from 6 a.m. and are scheduled to close at 4 p.m. for the country’s about 5.1 million registered voters to cast their ballots. There are 3,807 polling centers with 14,665 polling stations nationwide, according to the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI).
Some polling stations didn’t open on time as shipping of needed equipment was delayed. CENI Spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba told media that the closing of polling stations may be extended to 5 p.m. if they were unable to open on time due to technical reasons.
Long queues were seen at polling stations as the poll opened.
Josephine Niragira, a voter queueing up at a polling station in the commercial capital, Bujumbura, told Xinhua that she expects the new president to boost relations with other countries and focus on improving security.
All the presidential candidates are expected to cast ballots in their native villages. Secretary General of the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) Evariste Ndayishimiye cast his ballot in Geheta commune, in Gitega Province, central Burundi.
His main rival, Agathon Rwasa of the opposition National Council for Liberty, went to the north and cast his ballot in Kiremba commune, in Ngozi province.
Provisional results are expected to be released on May 26.
The central African country experienced violence related to the last general elections in 2015, and its citizens told Xinhua earlier that they expected peaceful elections, urging those who lose to accept the results and the winners to rule for everyone in the country.
“We will have newly-elected institutions and we expect that they won’t work for their parties,” Chartier Niyungeko, a Burundian expert in peaceful conflict resolutions, told Xinhua in an interview, adding that the elections should not create tension or lead people to violence and killings as in 2015.
He said elections are the opportunity given to people to show differences of their opinions about political parties and independents, and that the candidates must understand that the competition is a way of promoting political tolerance.
Burundi plunged into crisis in April 2015 when the current president, Pierre Nkurunziza from CNDD-FDD, decided to run his controversial third term bid, which he won in July 2015. His candidature, which was opposed by the opposition and civil society groups, resulted in a wave of protests, violence and even a failed coup in May 2015.
Nkurunziza is not seeking reelection this time.
2020 Burundi general election
BUJUMBURA, May 19 (Xinhua) –– Central Africa’s Burundi is set to hold general elections on May 20, where about 5.1 million registered voters are expected to cast ballots to elect a new president, members of National Assembly and district councillors.
The following are some basic facts about the election:
The ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) elected its secretary general, Major General Evariste Ndayishimiye as the party’s presidential candidate.
Under the new constitution promulgated in June 2018, the presidential term is extended from five to seven years and allows the president to serve two consecutive terms.
Opposition party National Council for Liberty’s Agathon Rwasa is widely predicted to be Ndayishimiye’s main challenger.
Other five presidential candidates include current First Vice-President Gaston Sindimwo from the National Progress Union (UPRONA), former Burundian president Domitien Ndayizeye from the Kira Burundi coalition.
In a bid to finance the general elections by Burundi itself and hence getting rid of possible influence from donors, the government started mobilizing financial contributions from citizens in 2017.
The May elections will be followed by the elections of senators and village councillors that will take place on July 20 and Aug. 24, 2020 respectively.
The landlocked country will have a new president for the first time in 15 years since the current president Pierre Nkurunziza from CNDD-FDD will not run for the presidency.
Burundi plunged into a crisis in April 2015 when Nkurunziza decided to run his controversial third term bid, which he won in July 2015. His candidature, which was opposed by the opposition and civil society groups, resulted in a wave of protests, violence and even a failed coup in May 2015.
Since April 2015, 300,000 Burundians had fled to neighboring countries following election-related violence, according to the UNHCR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).
The overall security of Burundi has improved, and the current situation is generally stable. Many of Burundian refugees living in other countries have voluntarily returned.
However, violence among supporters of parties running in the race had occurred during a three-week electoral campaign starting April 27. Enditem