Burundi Opposition Leaders Reaches Court Over Presidential Election Irregularities

Burundi’s main opposition leader on Thursday made an appeal to the constitutional court challenging the results of the recently held presidential election, alleging the vote was rigged in favor of the ruling party candidate, Evariste Ndayishimiye, reported Reuters.

On Monday, Burundi’s election commission announced Ndayishimiye as the presidential election winner with 69 percent of the vote. It added that opposition leader Agathon Rwasa’s National Freedom Council (CNL) got 24 percent of the vote. Five other candidates also contested in the presidential election, in which 5.11 million registered voters were eligible to participate.

“We have just handed in our submission to the Constitutional Court for the May 20 election,” Rwasa said outside the court. “We observed many irregularities… we have proof of ballot stuffing, voting on behalf of dead people etc…The results announced are false. We have proof that there was massive fraud.”

Rwasa said his party has evidence that showed that people had voted using dead voters’ identities and use of an electoral register which has never been published by the electoral body and ballot box stuffing. He warned that if the Burundi court’s ruling doesn’t come in favor of his party, then they would take the case to the East African Court of Justice in Arusha, Tanzania.

On Wednesday, Burundi’s Catholic Church claimed that its election observers deployed at various at polling centers also witnessed some irregularities in the election including ballot box tampering, officials harassing and intimidating voters, and proxy votes registered in place of dead people and refugees.

“We deplore the many irregularities regarding the freedom and transparency of the electoral process, as well as fairness in the treatment of certain candidates and voters,” said Bishop Joachim Ntahondereye, head of the Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Burundi constitutional court has until June 5 to make its decision. If the legal challenge is not successful, Ndayishimiye will be sworn-in as the new Burundi president in August for a seven-year term.

Caroline Finnegan

A professionnal journalist for the past ten years, I cover global news and economic affairs for The Chief Observer.

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