Burundi’s election to end Pierre Nkurunziza’s 15-year rule

Burundi will today hold parliamentary and presidential elections, marking the end of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s divisive and violent 15-year rule.

burundi election

Photo: AP/Berthier Mugiraneza

Burundi will today hold parliamentary and presidential elections, marking the end of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s divisive and violent 15-year rule.

The election will feature a close presidential race between the ruling right-wing CNDD-FDD party’s Evariste Ndayishimiye and the progressive opposition CNL party’s Agathon Rwasa.

Since the campaign season began in April, 145 opposition members have been arrested on charges of inciting revolt and civil unrest. Moreover, the government has banned human rights envoys from the UN and African Union meant to ensure a fair electoral process.

Years of political intimidation coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic is being used as cover for the persecution of dissidents signals a high likelihood that Ndyashimiye will come out on top. Humanitarian groups have expressed concern at the risk of further violence in the aftermath of what will likely be perceived as a rigged election. With forced recruitment of youth into the ranks of the ruling party, there is a potential for another cycle of harsh authoritative rule in the midst of a global recession. If the government does respond violently to possible demonstrations, it risks losing much-needed support for development projects from the African Union and the EU, further crippling an already struggling economy.

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