Nkurunziza’s Loyalist Evariste Ndayishimiye Wins Burundi Presidential Election

Evariste Ndayishimiye

Gen Evariste Ndayishimiye, the candidate of Burundi’s ruling party, National Council for the Defence of Democracy–Forces (CNDD-FDD) in last week’s presidential elections, is the country’s Presidential-elect after being declared winner by the country’s elections body on Monday evening. The race had seven contestants.

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 from the CNL party, came in far behind with 24.19 percent.

The election was conducted without foreign observers. Last week, authorities told Observers from the East African Community who had planned to go to Burundi that they would undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine. This implied that they would leave the quarantine almost a week after the polls were concluded.

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

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

Rwasa however said he would not take to the streets in protest and would appeal to the Constitutional Court, though he considers the process imperfect.

Ndayishimiye who is expected to be sworn in for a seven-year term in late August when Nkurunziza’s term ends is also the Secretary General of the CNDD-FDD since 2016. He also served as the Minister of the Interior and Public Security from 2006 to 2007.

The historic election is seen by many commentators as one that is likely to usher in the first peaceful transfer of power in Burundi in 58 years.

The country 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 and sent hundreds of thousands fleeing to neighbouring countries.

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.

Unlike the 2015 election which was controversial and triggered disagreement as well as seeing many journalists and human rights defenders flee into exile, last week’s election has been described as having been generally peaceful.

This marks exactly 15 years since Burundi emerged from a 12-year civil war.

Most observers expect Nkurunziza to respect his word and peacefully relinquish office.

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