BUJUMBURA – The government of Burundi on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, blocked social media platforms as the country went to the polls to elect a new president as well as members of parliament and local councillors.
The polls are mainly intended to choose another President to replace Pierre Nkurunziza who in 2019 announced that he would step down.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter were not accessible, with Virtual Private Networks (VPN) only the possible alternative to access the social media sites.
As a result, information on the voter turnout was hardly inaccessible. It was not immediately whether voting was to end on Wednesday or whether it would continue into Thursday.
The government also rejected observers from the United Nations or the African Union, accusing them of being opposition sympathisers.
The last time the country peaceful polls was in 2015 but there were marred by violence. The election sparked violent protests that drove hundreds of thousands of Burundians into exile.
The UN documented hundreds of killings as well as the torture and gang rape of opposition activists
The run-up to the current poll has been marred by violence and accusations that the vote will not be free and fair.
Evariste Ndayishimiye of the governing CNDD-FDD party, and Agathon Rwasa from the opposition are the favourites.
Whoever wins will be required by law to consult Mr Nkurunziza on matters of national security and national unity.
Burundi has recorded more than 40 cases of coronavirus, with one death, but it has been criticised for holding mass rallies.