The East African Community (EAC) has Monday heaped praise on Burundi for successfully holding peaceful presidential elections last week.
The elections held on Wednesday in the small East African country saw the people of Burundi elect a new President and representatives in the National Assembly.
The presidential candidate of the ruling party, National Council for the Defence of Democracy–Forces (CNDD-FDD), Evariste Ndayishimiye, was Monday declared winner by the national election commission out of a race that had seven candidates.
Ndayishimiye, a military General who is also a loyalist of outgoing President Pierre Nkurunziza, won with 68.72 percent of the vote, while leading opposition candidate Agathon Rwasa from the CNL party, came in far behind with 24.19 percent.
The elections body said the process registered 87.8 percent turnout, something EAC says bears testimony to the desire of the people of Burundi to participate in determining their political future.
“The 2020 Burundi elections hold an iconic place in the history of the nation, making this the first peaceful and democratic transfer of power. More significantly, the process driven through own funding,” says the regional body in a statement.
“In the spirit of the Constitution promulgated in 2018, the Community urges all parties to practice patience and sustain the peace currently prevalent in the country as the final phase of the electoral process is underway. This will provide space for constitutionally mandated consideration and conclusion of contestation and ultimate announcement of the results by the Constitutional Court,” adds the bloc.
Unlike the 2015 election which was controversial, last week’s election is described as having been generally peaceful.
But leading opposition politician, Rwasa, on Monday alleged foul play in the election, saying initial numbers which showed his CNL party heading for a bruising defeat were a “farce”.
He however noted that he would not take to the streets in protest or appeal to the Constitutional Court, though he considers the process imperfect.
EAC today appealed to all Burundians of different political persuasions to guard the prevailing peace and sustain the tolerance that has been witnessed in the concluded elections.
Burundi has been marred by political violence since its last election in 2015 which saw President Pierre Nkurunziza run for a disputed third term in office.A failed coup left more than 1,000 people dead.
President Pierre Nkurunziza did not stand for a fourth term and announced in 2018 that he will step down for the new president after serving as the country’s leader for 15 years.
“The peaceful conclusion of the electoral process will not only be a big win for the people of Burundi but for the East African Community as a region,” reiterates the regional body.
If a peaceful transition finally happens as it is highly anticipated, the historic election will have ushered-in the first peaceful transfer of power in Burundi in 58 years.