Burundi: 2010 Election boycott

Updated August 2010

On the 24 May 2010 the Communal elections were conducted, the first in a series of elections scheduled for 2010, to be followed by a presidential election on 28 June, a National Assembly election on 23 July, a Senate election (conducted indirectly) on 28 July and local elections on 7 September 2010.

Dispute over Commune election results

The results of the May 2010 Communal elections released by the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) indicated a convincing victory for the ruling Conseil National pour la Défense de la Démocratie-Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie (CNDD-FDD), which was allocated 65.5% of the votes cast nationally (see 2010 Communal election results overview for details). However on 25 May, even before the count had been completed, eight opposition parties, including the Front National pour la Libération (FNL) that came second with 14.5% of the vote, issued a joint statement rejecting the results that had been announced thus far and alleged that the poll had been rigged, demanded a rerun of the elections and threated a boycott of the subsequent elections if a rerun was not conducted (IC publications 2010). The European Union's election observer mission issued a "Preliminary Statement" on 27 May that painted a picture discordant with these claims: "The electoral process up until now has proceeded in accordance with international standards for democratic elections".

The Burundian electoral code (Loi no 1/22 du 18 septembre 2009, Articles 77-84) provides that the provisional results determined by CENI be validated by the Constitutional Court which, if it finds that significant fraud has occurred, may order that fresh elections be conducted in parts of the country or throughout the whole territory. Furthermore, parties that are aggrieved at the conduct of the electoral process may petition the Constitutional Court for redress within 10 days of the results being announced (Loi no 1/22 du 18 septembre 2009, Articles 85-88).

Election boycott

The original five parties were joined by eight others who also rejected the results, but the CENI refused demands that the Communal elections be conducted afresh (Nduwimana 2010). On the 1 June five of the six parties that had previously indicated that they would contest the presidential election (including the FNL) announced that they would boycott the election, leaving only Yves Sahinguvu of the Unite pour le Progrès National (UPRONA) to contest against the candidate of the CNDD-FDD, the incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza (Nduwimana 2010). However, by the close of nominations on the 7 June only the CENI had received only the nomination of Nkurunziza, indicating the Sahinguvu had also withdrawn (AFP 2010).

After the close of nominations a CENI spokesperson announced that: "We shall have an election with just one candidate". In many countries electoral law requires that where only one candidate has been nominated nominated that candidate be declared the winner and no poll is to be conducted, such as in Zambia (Constitution of Zambia 1996, Article 33(7)). In other countries a poll must be conducted nevertheless, as in Tanzania (Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania (CAP 2), Article 41(3)). The law of Burundi, however, makes no provisions for this situation, but the unqualified Constitutional statement, "The President of the Republic is elected by an absolute majority of the votes cast", implies that a Tanzanian type poll be held (Constitution 2005, Article 102).

The run up to the presidential election (see presidential election results) and then to the National Assembly election was marked by rising tension and increasing levels of violence: "During the period of violence there were more than 100 grenade attacks, arson attacks on at least 35 local offices of the ruling party and two ruling party activists as well as an opposition activist were killed. While the ruling party has been the target of grenade and arson attacks, the opposition has suffered arrests and restrictions on their movement" (Boshoff 2010). In the end only three major parties, the CNDD-FDD, UPRONA and Nyakuri-Iragi rya Ndadaye (Sahwanya FRODEBU Nyakuri), participated in the National Assembly election (see National Assembly election results for details).


AFP 2010 "Nkurunziza's rivals pull out", News24, 8 June, [www] http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/Nkurunzizas-rivals-pull-out-20100608 [opens new window] (accessed 9 June 2010).

BOSHOFF, H "The Burundi Electoral Process: A Time to Act", Institute for Security Studies, 23 July, [www] http://www.polity.org.za/article/the-burundi-electoral-process-a-time-to-act-2010-07-23 [opens new window] (accessed).

CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA 1977 (CAP 2), [www] http://www.policeforce.go.tz/pdf/REPUBLIC.pdf, [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 8 Mar 2010).

CONSTITUTION OF ZAMBIA 1996, [www] http://aceproject.org/ero-en/regions/africa/ZM/Constitution%20of%20Zambia%201996.pdf/at_download/file [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 9 Mar 2010).

CONSTITUTION POST-TRANSITION DE LA REPUBLIQUE DU BURUNDI 2005 [www] http://www.chanrobles.com/burundi1.html [opens new window] (accessed 28 Apr 2010).

EUROPEAN UNION 2010 "Declaration preliminaire" (élections communales), 27 mai, [www] http://www.eueom.eu/files/pressreleases/other/ue-moe-declaration-preliminaire-27052010_fr.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 9 June 2010).

IC PUBLICATIONS 2010 "Burundi opposition demands re-run over fraud claims", [www] http://www.africasia.com/services/news_africa/article.php?ID=CNG.48ccbdeaaf685b4c112dc4554a808ca0.5e1 [opens new window] (accessed 9 June 2010).

LOI NO 1/22 DU 18 SEPTEMBRE 2009 PORTANT REVISION DE LA LOI NO 1/015 DU 20 AVRIL 2005 PORTANT CODE ELECTORAL, [www] http://www.arib.info/Parlement_Code_electoral_sept2009.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 9 June 2010).

NDUWIMANA, P 2010 "Burundi opposition candidates to boycott presidential poll", 1 June, Reuters, [www] http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE6501QL.htm [opens new window] (accessed 9 June 2010).