Burundians voted Wednesday in tense elections to replace their long-ruling president, with the opposition crying foul over arrests and intimidation, and little attention paid to the coronavirus pandemic. The election comes after five years of turmoil sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, which unleashed unrest that left at least 1,200 dead and saw 400,000 flee the country.
Burundians waited in long lines, with no social distancing observed, to cast their vote in an election taking place without international observers, while social media such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter were cut off.
More than five million registered voters are being asked to choose between Nkurunziza’s hand-picked heir and frontrunner, 52-year-old general Evariste Ndayishimiye, the main opposition competitor Agathon Rwasa and five other candidates. Elections are also being held for parliament MPs and local councillors who appoint the members of the Senate. Primary school teacher Patrice, 30, who voted in northern Ngozi, said it was “time for change”.—AFP