According to local media sources election-related violence between supporters of Burundi's National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) ruling party and supporters of the National Congress for Liberty (CNL) opposition party left at least two people dead as of Thursday, May 7. The clashes took place during the presidential, legislative, and communal election campaign, which began on Monday, April 27, and will continue until Sunday, May 17.
Further political events and election-related violence is expected in the near term, despite the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
A total of seven candidates are running for president for the first round of the elections scheduled on Wednesday, May 20. A second round of presidential elections will be held on Friday, June 19, should presidential candidates fail to obtain a majority.
The government and ruling party members have been accused by Human Rights Watch of using fear and repression against the opposition and the media.
Political violence persists throughout Burundi since the country's contested July 2015 elections. President Pierre Nkurunziza was elected to a controversial third term in 2015 even though Burundian law stipulated a maximum presidential tenure of two five-year terms prior to a referendum Nkurunziza organized. During the 2015 elections, an estimated 1200 people were killed and over 400,000 displaced.
The main opposition party, the National Congress for Liberty (CNL), has confirmed that Agathon Rwasa will be their candidate in the election. Rwasa previously ran against Nkurunziza in 2010 and 2015. Since his candidacy was confirmed, Rwasa has issued multiple claims that there will be attempts to rig the vote in favor of the ruling CNDD-FDD party. The CNDD-FDD has selected the party's current Secretary-General, Evariste Ndayishimiye, to be their candidate.
The vote will be the first since a new Constitution was adopted in May 2018, extending the presidential term from five to seven years.
Individuals in Burundi are advised to keep abreast of the political situation, avoid all public demonstrations and election-related events as a precaution, avoid discussing sensitive political topics in public, and obey all instructions issued by the local authorities.
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