BURUNDI: Low Voter Turnout in Presidential Polls

BUJUMBURA JULY 21, 2015(CISA)- Burundi began voting in its disputed presidential election on Tuesday with a low turnout in several polling stations after widespread tension over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to stand for a third consecutive term.

Polls opened at 06:00 local time (04:00 GMT) after a night of gunfire and explosions killed a police officer and a civilian in Bujumbura, BBC News reported July 21.

The president’s critics say the vote is unconstitutional, as the president is entitled to stand for two terms only. The government however accused the opposition of provoking violent protests.

The president’s office has described the latest protests as terrorist acts intended to disrupt the election.

Chief communications advisor Willy Nyamitwe said: “People do it to intimidate voters. They don’t want the voters to go to the polls.”

Mr Nkurunziza’s main challenger, Agathon Rwasa is registered as an independent candidate .His name is on the ballot paper but he says he will not participate in the process.

However, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday pressed Burundian authorities to pull out all the stops to see that elections are carried out peacefully.

Ban “calls on the authorities to do all in their power to ensure security and a peaceful atmosphere during the election,” a statement from his spokesman said.

The Constitutional Court has backed his argument that his first term in office did not count towards the two-term limit, as he was elected by MPs.

The African Union (AU) has not sent observers – the first time it has taken such a stance against a member state.

Some 3.8 million Burundians are eligible to vote.

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