Gunshots in Burundi capital ahead of results

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At least two policemen were injured during a grenade attack in Burundi’s capital on Wednesday, witnesses said, as the country awaited results from Monday’s parliamentary election which was boycotted by the opposition.

 

Sporadic gunfire could also be heard in several other flashpoint districts in Bujumbura, marring celebrations marking the independence day holiday in the former Belgian colony in east Africa.

Burundi has been locked in its worst political crisis since its civil war ended a decade ago, with protests erupting in late April against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid to seek a third term in office. The presidential vote is due on July 15.

 

The United States and other Western powers have criticised Monday’s poll, saying the conditions were not right to stage a fair election.

“Two policemen were injured,” said Fabien, a resident of Mutakura district where weeks of street protests took place against Nkurunziza in May and early June.
Fabien said it appeared some civilians were also wounded when two grenades exploded but it was not clear how many.

Another resident confirmed explosions took place early in the morning and reported a heavy police presence in the area after the blasts.

 

A police spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

The electoral commission (CENI) has said it expects results from the poll to be announced on Wednesday or Thursday.

Although the opposition coalition did not campaign and boycotted the race, names of the parties were still on the ballot paper. A CENI official told state radio their votes would be counted and they would be awarded any seats they won.

 

The government has pressed on with the election schedule despite the turmoil. Opponents say the president’s attempt to stand again violates the constitution.

About 140 000 people, more than 1 percent of the population of 10 million, have fled across the country’s borders, stoking concern in a region with a history of ethnic conflict, particularly in Rwanda, where 800 000 people were killed in 1994. — Reuters.

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