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Peaceful polls despite virus: Burundi ruling party 'thanks God'


Burundi’s ruling party, CNDD-FDD begun on Friday (May 29), a three-day thanksgiving service to thank God for victory following disputed presidential polls.

The party’s candidate, General Evariste Ndayishimiye, won over 68% of votes in the vote with the main opposition CNL party’s Agathon Rwasa getting 24%, according to the elections body, CENI.

Leading figures and supporters of the ruling party met in the capital Gitega to start the session. In attendance was the president-elect who takes over in the next few months with the eventual exit of Pierre Nkurunziza – president for the past 15 years.

“God spared us from this coronavirus pandemic and we held elections and participated without fear, do we need any other sign to demonstrate that God is with us?” the president-elect said in his remarks.

The main opposition party on Thursday filed a petition at the Constitutional Court to contest the results of the vote citing fraud and irregularities. If the opposition’s appeal is rejected, Mr. Ndayishimiye will be sworn in in August for a seven-year term, renewable once, at the end of the outgoing president’s term.

The Catholic Church on Tuesday reported irregularities in the May 20 polls. “We deplore many irregularities with regard to the freedom and transparency of the electoral process as well as fairness in the treatment of certain candidates and voters,” said the President of the Burundi Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Joachim Ntahondereye.

He added that the church “deplores in particular the coercion exercised on certain proxies to sign in advance the counting of the contents of the ballot boxes, the stuffing of some ballot boxes, the voting in place of deceased and refugees, multiple and therefore invalid proxies, the fact that there were in some polling stations voters who voted more than once”.

It also condemns “the exclusion of proxies and observers from the places where the votes are counted, the intimidation and coercion of some voters by administrative officials who accompanied them to the polling booths, the intrusion of unauthorised persons into the counting stations”.

“In the face of these and other irregularities, we wonder whether they do not prejudice the (final) results to be proclaimed by the Constitutional Court on 4 June,” the Catholic Bishops’ Conference asked.

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