Burundi holds democratic elections every five years starting from 2005 after the civil war that last more than a decade. Already three general elections are registered in 2005, 2010 and 2015. In 2020, Burundi hold general elections on 20 May 2020 despites the Covid-19 pandemic which prevented international observers from abroad to be present. Over all, those elections were successfully and peacefully conducted. This paper will cover four main points which characterized the polls. Firstly, it will look at how the elections were organized. After that, the unfolding of this event will be analyzed and finally, a summary of different reactions will be brought to the reader.
As far as the Organisation of this general election is concerned, the world will be reminded that the Government of Burundi decided to fund a hundred per cent the elections in order to fully enjoy its sovereignty. This sovereign act was welcomed by Burundi People inside the country and in diaspora, who voluntarily accepted to contribute to the funding of that event of sovereign character. This activity involved many other duties including the establishment of an Independent National Electoral Commission and its branches, other different legal documents such the electoral code, registration process, electoral cards, the electoral calendar, political party’s roadmap to name a few. Moreover to prepare for a peaceful process, a number of seminars attended by stakeholders, staff, different leaders and the populations have been organized. It is also important to recall that the entire process concerns six ballots: while the Presidential, the Legislative and Communal (local officials) ballots took place on 20 May 2020, Senators will be elected on 20 July 2020 and finally on 24 August 2020, will be the turn of quarters(hills)’s council members. This process allowed more than five millions Burundians to enjoy their rights to participate in all the elections.
UNFOLDING OF THE ELECTIONS
The early morning of May 20th saw more than five millions Burundians expected to vote at about 1,500 polling stations to choose not just a new president, but also lawmakers and local officials. At the presidential level were seven candidates running for president, but the two top contenders are Evariste Ndayishimiye, the Secretary-General of the ruling party CNDD-FDD, and Agathon Rwasa president of CNL party. Since 1993, this is the first competitive vote after a civil war that began in 1993 and ended in 2005 with a general election won by the CNDD-FDD.
At 6h30 AM, voters started exercising their civic act which was expected to end at 4.pm the time from which, if there was no one left on the queue, the activity of counting the votes was to start throughout the country and this was regularly broadcast by radios in a synergy way until the end of the process. The elections were carried out in security, safety and peaceful conditions.
On 25 May 2020, the provisional results on the Presidential and legislative elections by the Electoral Commission at the national were announced as follow:
• The President-Elect for 2020-2027 is Mr Evariste NDAYISHIMIYE (Retired Gen. Maj.) from the CNDD-FDD Party with 68, 72 %, and at the second position is Mr Agathon RWASAfrom CNL Party with 24,19% while Mr Gaston SINDIMWO from UPRONA Party is at third position with 2,44%.
• For the National Assembly, the CNDD-FDD Party won with 68,02%, followed by the CNL with 22,43% and lastly the UPRONA Party with 2,44%.
While the final results are expected to be released on 4 June 2020 after the solution for potential claims and after validation of the final results by the Constitutional Court, it is important to recall that with 87.7 per cent of registered voters turning out to cast their ballots in those elections, the Commission chairman Dr Pierre Claver Kazihisedescribed the turnout as “massive” and said the polling, which also included the election of members of parliament and local officials, was peaceful.
After the announcement of the provisional results of the elections many local and external reactions were made from a range of personalities and institutions.
At the local level, the outgoing President, H.E Pierre Nkurunziza congratulated the population of Burundi for having attended the elections peacefully and called them to remain calm and peaceful. He also congratulated the President-Elect Mr Evariste Ndayishimiye for his victory. Other VIPs such as the President of the National Assembly, the President of the Senate, the Ombudsman, Ministers, Political Parties, former President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, the civil society as well as many associations did the same.
External reactions came also from many areas such as Diplomatic Institutions, regional organizations, the African Union and the United Nations.
On a diplomatic ground, the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and International Organizations accredited in Burundi took note of the peaceful elections and encourage all stakeholders to refrain from any act of violence.
On a bilateral angle, Excellencies the President of DRC, the President of Uganda, H M King Selemanof Saudi Arabia, the Oman Sultan Haitham ben Tariq congratulated the President-Elect EvaristeNdayishimiye and promised their support to work for the wealth on their peoples.
They considered the 2020 Burundi Elections as holding an iconic place in the history of the nation, making the first peaceful and democratic transfer of power. They promised to work together in all domain especially in development.
As for regional organizations, the EAC and ECCAScongratulated the Government and the people of Burundi for peaceful and successful nominations, campaigns and voting process. They considered the 2020 Burundi Elections as holding an iconic place in the history of the nation, making the first peaceful and democratic transfer of power. They promised to work together in all domain especially in development. Other organizations such as Sant’Egidio from Rome sent a message of congratulation to President-Elect EvaristeNdayishimiye with promises to support each other.
On behalf of the African Union, H.E Moussa Faki, the president of African Union Commission tweeted saying that he was pleased the peacefully conducted elections. As far the United Nations is concerned, The United Nations Security Council took note of the provisional results of Burundi elections 2020 and called parties to preserve a peaceful climate and to continue to use peaceful and legal means to resolve any questions that may arise from the electoral process.
All in all, Burundi elections in 2020 were done successfully and peacefully and this allowed positive reactions inside the country and outside Burundi.