On Monday, May 25, the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) announced that Evariste Ndayishimiye of the governing National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party had won Burundi's presidential election held on Wednesday, May 20. Ndayishimiye achieved 68.72 percent of the vote, with nearest rival Agathon Rwasa achieving 24.19 percent, enough of a majority to avoid a runoff election. Rwasa and his National Freedom Council (CNL) party have criticized the result claiming foul play and on Tuesday, May 26, Rwasa lodged an appeal with the constitutional court.
While Rwasa has not encouraged supporters to take to the streets and instead has focused on a legal challenge to the result, unrest associated with the election result is possible over the near term.
Wednesday's poll was the first competitive presidential election to be held in Burundi since the country's 1993 civil war, with President Pierre Nkurunziza stepping down after his controversial third term in office. Nkurunziza's victory in the previous 2015 election cast the country into a long-running and violent political crisis which has seen at least 1200 people killed and over 400,000 displaced. However, opposition groups, including the main CNL opposition party, have questioned whether the president really intends to transfer power to his hand-picked successor Evariste Ndayishimiye.
Despite claims of impartiality from the CENI, there remain significant concerns over the openness of Wednesday's election process, with independent oversight being severely restricted after most international observers were barred from the country ahead of the poll.
Individuals in Burundi are advised to remain apprised of the political situation, avoid all public demonstrations and election-related events as a precaution, avoid discussing sensitive political topics in public, and heed all directives issued by the local authorities.
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