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Burundi's Nkurunziza wins third term as president

Marco Longari, AFP | Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza arrives for celebrations marking the country's 53rd Independence Anniversary on July 1, 2015

Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza on Friday won a third-term in office after the opposition boycotted the vote, a victory that leaves the nation politically divided and facing international isolation.


Nkurunziza won 69.41 percent of the 2.8 million votes cast, winning comfortably in the rural regions where most of Burundi's 10 million people live. His nearest rival, Agathon Rwasa, took 18.99 percent of the vote.

Extremely low turnout in Bujumbura, where weeks the protests against Nkurunziza's presidency took place in the run up to the vote, indicate opposition to Nkurunziza's presidency remains strong. Turnout in the capital stood at 29.75 percent against a national average of 73.44 percent.

The former sports teacher, ex-rebel, born-again Christian and football fanatic 's decision to seek a third term had plunged Burundi into its biggest crisis since an ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005.

Violent clashes between protesters and security forces began in April following the announcement that Nkurunziza, from Burundi's majority Hutu ethnic group, would stand for a third consecutive five-year term -- something his opponents say is a violation of the constitution and a peace deal that ended Burundi's civil war in 2006.

Scores of people have been killed since late April, when Burundi's ruling CNDD-FDD party nominated Nkurunziza as its candidate.

Polls opened Tuesday amid gunfire and explosions, with two people killed overnight in clashes in the capital Bujumbura.

African leaders and Western powers had called for the delay of Tuesday's vote due to growing insecurity.

Pierre Claver Ndayicariye, head of the electoral commission, announced the presidential results in a press conference in Bujumbura.

Regional leaders and Western diplomats fear Burundi could slide back into civil war if tensions are not resolved. That is a frightening prospects for a region scarred by the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda, where about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. Burundi has a similar ethnic makeup.

The United States has threatened to cut aid and the European Union said it was preparing sanctions.

More then 175,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries to seek refuge and the United Nations has warned more than half a million Burundians may end up leaving the country if the crisis persists.


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