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Burundi’s president wins controversial third term

BUJUMBURA, Burundi — Burundi’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza, has won a third term in office, an electoral official announced Friday, amid controversy over whether his new term is constitutional.

Nkurunziza won 69 percent of the vote, while his closest rival, Agathon Rwasa, got 19 percent, said electoral chief Pierre-Claver Ndayicariye.

There were neither celebrations nor protests in Bujumbura, the capital, after the results were announced.

Nkurunziza, 51, was expected to be reelected because he did not face a strong challenge in Tuesday’s polls after some opposition groups boycotted the election. Rwasa, the leading opposition candidate, said his campaign had been hindered by officials.


The United States and Britain condemned the elections as not credible because of violence, intimidation, media restrictions, and questions over the legitimacy of a third term for Nkurunziza.

Burundi has been rocked by violence since April after the ruling party announced Nkurunziza would run again. Streets protests have left at least 100 people dead. More than 170,000 refugees have fled the country fearing electoral violence, said the United Nations refugee agency

The protests led to an attempted coup in mid-May which was quickly put down.

Many fear that Nkurunziza’s determination to stay in power could trigger widespread violence in the poor central African country of 10 million that has a history of civil strife. Earlier this month the Burundi government said the army had put down a rebellion in the north, killing 31 and arresting 171.

‘‘Burundian authorities repressed demonstrations as if they were an insurrection, and now the country appears to be on the verge of conflict,’’ Amnesty International said in a report Thursday.

Opponents say Nkurunziza must retire because the constitution limits the president to two terms. But the president’s supporters say he is eligible for a third term because he was chosen by lawmakers for his first term in 2005.


Associated Press