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52-year-old Ndayishimiye becomes Burundi new president

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Burundi’s ruling party candidate Evariste Ndayishimiye was on Monday declared the winner of the country’s presidential election, which the opposition has said was flawed.

The national election commission, in results streamed live on Burundian media, announced that Ndayishimiye had won 68.72 percent of the vote, while opposition leader Agathon Rwasa came in far behind with 24.19 percent.

Ndayishimiye, 52, is a former army general who was handpicked by the ruling CNDD-FDD to replace President Pierre Nkurunziza, who has been in power since 2005 and whose final years in office have been wracked with turmoil.

Nkurunziza’s third-term election run in 2015 sparked violence which left at least 1,200 dead and pushed 400,000 to flee the country.

Ndayishimiye is set to inherit a deeply isolated country, under sanctions and cut off by foreign donors, its economy and national psyche damaged by the years of political violence and rights violations.

The election was conducted with scant regard to the coronavirus outbreak — which has been largely ignored — and on top of a potential public health crisis, the opposition looks set to contest the outcome of the election.

No foreign observers were allowed in to keep an eye on the election process.

Rwasa, the main opposition candidate, has already alleged foul play, saying initial numbers which showed his CNL party heading for a bruising defeat were a “fantasy”.

The Burundi President-elect attracted large crowds throughout his campaign, and observers said he may reap the benefit of a populace exhausted by the CNDD-FDD’s rule.

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The CNL has alleged the stuffing of ballot boxes, proxy voting, intimidation, and said its polling agents were arrested or booted out during voting and counting.

However Rwasa has already hinted he would not take to the streets in protest and would appeal to the Constitutional Court, though he considers the process imperfect.

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