Burundi′s Nkurunziza wins controversial third term | News | DW | 24.07.2015
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Burundi's Nkurunziza wins controversial third term

President Nkurunziza has won a third term after a controversial election that was boycotted by main opposition groups. The vote was marred by weeks of violence and strong international criticism aimed at the government.

Pierre Nkurunziza secured a first-round victory in the presidential elections, winning 69.41 percent of the vote to claim a third term in office, the head the electoral commission, Pierre Claver Ndayicariye, said on Friday.

The announcement did not come as a major surprise, as opposition parties largely boycotted Tuesday's ballot amid a deep political crisis.

The electoral commission, however, did not remove the names of Nkurunziza's rivals from the ballot, arguing that the main opposition candidates had not followed the necessary procedures to be struck from the ballot. Despite the boycott, opposition candidate Agathon Rwasa received almost 19 percent of the votes, officials said.

Burundi has suffered from political unrest that has left some 100 people dead and forced an estimated 150,000 people to leave the African country since late April, when Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third five-year term. It's a move his critics called unconstitutional, as the office has a two-term limit. Nkurunziza, however, has maintained he was put in office by the parliament for his first term and was permitted to run again in the popular election.

Fears of tribal conflict

The United States, the European Union and the former colonial power Belgium had all questioned the election's credibility, with the African Union citing insecurity and the forced closure of private media outlets by the government.

The United States has threatened to cut aid and the European Union said on Thursday it was preparing sanctions for Burundi.

The international community fears that the violent crisis surrounding Nkurunziza's third term could trigger new conflicts between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups, in a country that only emerged from a bloody civil war in the mid-2000s.

Nkurunziza's opponents in the army staged a failed coup in May, and subsequently launched a rebellion in the north of Burundi. The latest attack injured four people on Thursday, when a grenade exploded near the house of an official from Nkurunziza's ruling CNDD-FDD party.

dj/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)