" voting is open ", has solemnly declared Prosper Sindayihebura, president of a polling station at the primary school Bugera, in the commune of Ndava, located in the province of Mwarao, in the centre of Burundi. "We received the election materials yesterday and we could be ready in time," he told AFP at the opening of his office at 6: 19, and after having allowed the first voter, a man of thirty years, to vote.
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elections at all costs
As this office, others have also opened their doors this Wednesday, may 20, shortly after 6 hours, or 4 hours GMT, Burundi, for a presidential election organized in full pandemic Covid-19, and at the end of an election campaign, tense, were reported by witnesses and journalists of the AFP.
in Contrast to Ethiopia, which has postponed its elections of August due to the outbreak of new coronavirus, the government of burundi has chosen to maintain at all costs.
Thus, not only Burundi has not imposed the confinement of its approximately 11 million inhabitants, unlike some of its neighbours, but the election fever has given rise to gatherings of thousands of people without any measures of social distancing.
The government has assured at the beginning of the epidemic that the country was protected by the " divine grace ". It identifies officially the 42 cases, for a single death, but he is accused by doctors on-site to minimize the gravity of the situation. It has even expelled the last week the team of the world health Organization advises on the epidemic. In addition, several employees of the AFP and the inhabitants of Bujumbura, the economic capital, were found not to be able to access their social networks, since 5 hours, except to use a virtual private network (VPN).
in Addition to the new president, the approximately 5.1 million voters in burundi are called for up to 16 hours to choose their mps and their councillors. The latter will designate by the following members of the Senate.
The electoral commission has thus adopted a system with three ballot boxes per polling station and a color code for each election : blue for the presidential, green for the legislative and red for the communal. On each ballot, voters choose their candidate by placing their footprints in front of his name in indelible ink.
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Turn the page of the era Nkurunziza
The campaign, accompanied by a wave of violence and arbitrary arrests, has been all the more tense as the competition is real for the presidency, with among the seven candidates vying for a duel tight between the general Ndayishimiye and Agathon Rwasa.
Evariste Ndayishimiye, 52 years old, presented by the CNDD-FDD as the "heir" of Pierre Nkurunziza, is a general from the seraglio, a veteran as his mentor in the rebellion hutu CNDD-FDD which fought during the civil war in burundi (1993-2006, 300 000 deaths) against the army dominated by the tutsi minority.
Agathon Rwasa, 56 years, is the result of the former rebel movement in the country (Palipehutu-FNL), one of the two main rebel groups during the civil war. In the eyes of the Hutus, who represent 85% of the population, Agathon Rwasa has as much legitimacy to run for the presidency than his rival CNDD-FDD. "The people will not steal his victory ", he warned. The party in power, a real war machine election with significant resources, has indicated to his side that it did anything other than win.
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The future president, elected for a term of seven years, will be invested in August, at the end of the mandate of Pierre Nkurunziza. The latter, raised to the rank of "supreme guide of patriotism" in February by the national Assembly, will remain the president of the Council of elders of the party, the body that takes the most important decisions.
The poll, supervised by an election commission, accused by the opposition to be gained in power, is going to take place behind closed doors. The government has rejected any observation mission of the UN or the african Union.
observers of political life in burundi have identified the fact that the opposition candidate Agathon Rwasa had mobilised large crowds during his campaign. "There is a phenomenon of ras-the-bowl, everything except the CNDD-FDD and Rwasa has been surfing this wave," says Onesphore Sematumba, analyst of the think tank International Crisis Group (ICG).
The Burundians have been submitted by the authority to a scheme of contributions forced unpopular, officially to finance the elections, against the background of economic crisis. While the country is ranked among the three poorest countries in the world according to the world Bank, which estimates that 75 % of the population lives below the poverty threshold, compared to 65 % at the arrival to power of Pierre Nkurunziza in 2005.
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