Outgoing Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza on Tuesday congratulated his protégé, General Évariste Ndayishimiye, who won the 20 May presidential election, seeing in his broad victory the proof of the people’s support “for the projects and values” conveyed by the regime.
“I warmly congratulate President-elect (…) Évariste Ndayishimiye for his broad victory which confirms that the vast majority of Burundians adhere to the projects and values he embodies,” Reporters Without Borders said. We are privileged witnesses of History. May God bless Burundi,” he said on his Twitter account.
General Ndayishimiye, a candidate of the ruling CNDD-FDD party, won the presidential election with 68.72 percent of the vote against 24.19 percent for his main opponent Agathon Rwasa, according to official figures announced on Monday by the National Independent Electoral Commission (Céni).
Mr Rwasa’s party, the National Council for Liberty (CNL), immediately denounced an “electoral masquerade”, a “non-credible ballot” and confirmed its intention to refer the matter to the Constitutional Court very quickly, even if it considers it to be in power.
If the opposition’s appeal is rejected, General Ndayishimiye, 52, will succeed President Nkurunziza. Nkurunziza, who has been in power since 2005, had decided not to stand for a fourth term and had dubbed him as his “heir”.
Mr Nkurunziza’s successor is due to be sworn in in August for a seven-year term, renewable once at the end of the outgoing president’s term.
In 2015, Nkurunziza’s candidacy for a third controversial term had plunged the country into a major political crisis that left at least 1,200 people dead and some 400,000 Burundians fleeing the country.
The CNDD-FDD also won by the same margin (68.02%), ahead of the CNL (22.43%) and Uprona (2.44%), the legislative elections held on the same day.
Despite this complete victory, the ruling party called on its militants to “refrain from provocation” to avoid the violence that had marred the campaign.
The elections, which were held despite the Covid-19 epidemic, were generally calm and no major incidents have been reported since, although the CNL denounced the arrest of many of its supporters.