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Burundi's President Wins Third Term Amid Anger Over His Legitimacy

President Pierre Nkurunziza has received 69 percent of the vote in Burundi's contentious ballot, while opposition supporters in Bujumbura told VICE News that they didn't respect the election.

by Sally Hayden and Danny Gold
Jul 24 2015, 3:55pm

Photo par Jerome Delay/AP

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza has today won a third five-year term in office amid unrest over the legitimacy of his candidacy.

Pierre Claver Ndayicariye, head of the country's electoral commission, told reporters that the incumbent had received 69 percent of the vote, while Agathon Rwasa came second, with 19 percent.

The government announced that 73 percent of eligible voters had cast a ballot — meaning Nkurunziza gained 1,961,510 votes and Rwasa 536,235. A total of 2,654,062 votes were cast.

In the heavily opposition Bujumbura neighborhood of Musaga, where fierce protests have occurred over the last few months, a young man who gave his name as Eddy told VICE News: "It's just bullshit. For example here, in Musaga, we didn't go to vote. 

"I don't respect the election. How can I respect it? This election has violated the constitution, how can we the people respect it?"

'How can you organize an election when people are being killed and some people are fleeing the country?'

Burundi has been at crisis point since April 26, when Nkurunziza and the ruling CNDD-FDD party announced that the president would run for a third term that many believed was unconstitutional. 

The political maneuver sparked violent clashes between the ruling party's supporters and those opposed to his candidacy, triggering a wave of government-sponsored repression and intimidation that saw many flee and left others fearing for their lives.

Related: In Photos: Masked Protesters Face Off with Burundi Police

The announcement of the results at the Royal Palace Hotel in Bujumbura. Photo by Eric Fernandez/VICE News

In Musuga, another young man, called Jimmy, told VICE News: "They should cancel the election and the results, and prepare a new fair organized election. How can you organize an election when people are being killed and some people are fleeing the country?"

"Many people don't accept the election because he participated alone in the competition!" said another man, named Jean. Asked if he thought the violence that had plagued the lead up to the election would continue, he responded, "absolutely."

Meanwhile, outside a bar in Kamenge, a neighborhood with a strong CNDD-FDD support base, men who had gathered said they would even give Nkurunziza a fourth term if they could. The bartender, a young woman who declined to give her name, said: "We are many [supporters]. They must support it. They said we wouldn't have an election, and we did. They must respect the results." 

Related: Stones Vs. Guns: A Night on Burundi's Streets with Elvis and His Protesters

Nkurunziza won all provinces except for two — capital city Bujumbura and Bujumbura rural, which Rwasa won.

The government also said that official definitive results won't be announced for another nine days.

The delayed vote finally went ahead on Tuesday, despite calls for it to be delayed amid increasing insecurity. Opposition candidates also boycotted the vote, though their names remained on the ballot paper. 

Watch Violence and Protests on Polling Day: Burundi On The Brink (Dispatch 7) here: