As Thousands Flee, Burundi President Claims Parliament Victory

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Burundi parliamentary elections Monday came amid a boycott from opposition parties, while at least 10,000 people have fled out of fear of post-election violence Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza claimed Tuesday an early victory for his ruling CNDD-FDD party in Monday's controversial parliamentary election amid political crisis that some are saying is the worst since its civil war ended in 2005.

The president’s claims came shortly after the election commission announced it had finished counting votes. "They were thinking there is insecurity, they were thinking the situation in Burundi is not conducive for free and fair elections. But finally we proved to them that we can organize elections and secure elections," said Willy Nyamitwe, spokesperson of the president. The African Union said Sunday that it was not sending elections monitors to the country due to the tense political atmosphere in the country.

The country has seen months of turmoil since President Nkurunziza announced in April that he was running for third term in office. Protesters then took to the streets as they called Nkurunziza’s bid for presidency unconstitutional. The United Nations said Tuesday that at least 10,000 people had fled the country over the weekend ahead of Monday’s vote. Many fear that the current turmoil in the country could lead to violence similar to the 13-year civil war that ended in 2005 and saw the first term of Nkurunziza.

A group of 17 opposition parties said that they were boycotting the elections and warned that voting would not be conducted fairly given the current crisis in the country. They also said that they rejected the election timetable because they were not consulted. Meanwhile, officials from the election commission said that the turnout was “enormous”. More than 3.8 million people were expected to vote. The presidential election is expected to take place on July 15 despite calls for postponing the vote. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, more than 140,000 people have fled the country so far.

The unrest has seen a government crackdown on protesters, shutting down media and radio stations as well as a failed coup that saw military generals arrested and officials sacked. More than 70 people, including an opposition leader, have died in protest related-violence. Several top government officials, including the deputy vice-president Gervais Rufyikiri, Burundi’s National Assembly Speaker Pie Ntavyohanyuma as well as members of the election commission and constitutional court have fled Burundi citing pressure from the president and the government to support Nkurunziza's bid for a third term in office. 

SOURCE: teleSUR English, 30/06/2015, http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/As-Thousands-Flee-Burundi-Presiden...