Analysis: Burundi

Burundi election boycott on the cards following delay to polls, analysts

Photo: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic

Burundi’s opposition and protesters in the capital Bujumbura are likely to boycott the country’s delayed elections, according to analysts. Burundi’s presidency on Wednesday confirmed that parliamentary elections will go ahead on 29 June and a presidential poll on 15 July. The announcement confirms a proposal by the electoral commission pushing the presidential polls back by over two weeks.


The opposition is “almost guaranteed to boycott the elections”, says IHS analyst Robert Besseling, pointing out that key players such as the Catholic Church and EU have already pulled their support for the vote.

“The opposition has said from the start, they’re not playing on a level playing field,” Besseling told RFI during an interview in Paris.

Burundi’s opposition has already rejected the new timetable for elections saying conditions for holding fair polls were not met.

“People are so happy,” says Jean-Régis Nduwimana, a journalism lecturer at the University of Lake Tanganyika, referring to the feeling amongst protesters. “They are winning in terms of time.”

Nduwimana is sceptical that elections will actually take place in the capital Bujumbura, which has been the epicentre of protests against Nkurunziza.

“If there are elections in Bujumbura they will boycott, they will do whatever they can do,” he says. “Maybe it will happen in the other provinces like Gitega, Kayanza, Ngozi."

The opposition has called for the creation of a new independent electoral commission following the resignation of two of its five members.

“The current electoral commission has been set up by the current government in order to provide an advantage to Nkurunziza’s government and to his bid for a third term,” says analyst Besseling. “It’s unlikely that this will be changed and if it is changed it won’t satisfy opposition demands.”

At least 40 people have died in demonstrations which began in late April when Nkurunziza announced his candidacy for a third term in office.

Nkurunziza last month survived a coup attempt launched by a faction of the army.

Opponents to a third term say it is unconstitutional and goes against the 2006 Arusha peace deal which ended the country’s civil war.

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