Triple ballot of May 20 : CNL party files complaint to Constitutional Court

On Thursday, May 28, the National Congress for Liberty (CNL) submitted its file to the Constitutional Court. Agathon Rwasa, its president, second in the presidential race, claims to have irrefutable evidence that there has been fraud in the recent elections.

At 2.30 p.m. Agathon Rwasa arrives at the Constitutional Court, located in Kigobe neighborhood of Gihosha area in Ntahangwa commune, in the north of the economic capital Bujumbura.
He is escorted by the military and accompanied by his relatives.

“We have just submitted our appeal file to the Constitutional Court in relation to the elections of May 20 because we have analyzed different reports produced across the country and found many irregularities,” he told the press after filing the appeal.

The list of complaints is long: deceased people were mentioned as those who voted. He says he has many examples: “In Muzinda, there are more than 15 cases, in Buhayira in Murwi commune and elsewhere!”

The CNL party also denounces the attitude of the judiciary. “The CENI was ordered to strike off certain CNL candidates from the electoral lists on the basis of false allegations made by the Attorney General of the Republic. All this taints the ballot enormously!”
The CNL leader stresses that there is mismatch between the results of the same polling station for the presidential and legislative elections.

According to him, as much as the same number of people votes in the same office, as much we must have the same results. Or at least there should be equivalence of the number of votes expressed.

He adds: “There have been so many irregularities that we decided to file a complaint. There are monumental flaws that are noticed all over the country. There is not a single commune or province that is spared!”

Asked about the steps to follow if the court’s verdict is not favorable for him, the president of the National Congress for Liberty is clear: “We will go to the East African Court based in Arusha.”

The CNL candidate finally believes that the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) must answer for its responsibility with regard to certain irregularities. Here, he cites in particular the non-publication of the electoral register.
Note that the Constitutional Court has eight days to decide on the appeal.

Flashback on a controversial election: Triple ballot on May 20: Provisional results far from being unanimous

On Monday 25 May, the CENI announced provisional results of the triple ballot held on May 20 with tremendous victory attributed to the ruling CNDD-FDD party.
However, political parties and some observers denounce an electoral process marred by numerous irregularities.

Pierre Claver Kazihise: “It is incomprehensible that out of 39 organizations, only one finds things that the other 38 do not notice.”

On Monday, May 25, at Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika in Bujumbura, it was a Monday like no other. At 1:30 p.m., there are heavily armed soldiers guarding this hotel. The navy patrols the waters of Lake Tanganyika.

The special traffic police search all vehicles coming from the city center. In the hotel, every newcomer is subjected to a body search. Journalists will have the privilege of entering the room first. A national radio and television team is on site for a live broadcast.

The ceremonies for the announcement of the provisional results are scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Places for the seven presidential candidates are well indicated. Each contains the name of the party and the identification number of the candidate.

At 2 p.m., there is no presidential candidate in the hall. But in the meantime, many diplomats have taken their seats, some government ministers and members of the civil society are there. “Where is Rwasa?” Where’s Neva? …”say the journalists among themselves.

Everyone tries to fix their camera to take images when they arrive. On the seat reserved for the CNDD-FDD party, there is Joseph Ntakarutimana, vice-president of that party. That of the CNL party remains empty. Ditto for the seats reserved for other candidates.

At 2:50 p.m., the commissioners of the team of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) make a remarkable entry into the room. Still no presidential candidate is there. The ceremonies then begin.

Afterwards, Dieudonné Nahimana, an independent presidential candidate arrives. The main challengers, namely Evariste Ndayishimiye and Agathon Rwasa are still absent. Finally, Mr. Kazihise speaks.

Evariste Ndayishimiye, proclaimed winner

“The three polls of May 20, 2020 required careful preparation for their success as if it were a single poll or two only. This preparation was well done because it followed the electoral calendar and the voters responded on time, massively and calmly,” said Pierre Claver Kazihise, president of the CENI.

He indicated that the counting immediately followed at the polling place and in the presence of observers and the representatives of the candidates who wished to do so.

Mr. Kazihise said that the publication of the results by the Communal Electoral Commissions (CECI) was done in accordance with article 72 of the electoral code for transparency and the compilation continued in the Provincial Electoral Commissions (CEPI).

For the presidential election, Mr. Kazihise will announce that the candidate of the ruling party, Evariste Ndayishimiye won the election with 68.72% of the vote. He is followed, in second position, by Agathon Rwasa, candidate for the National Congress for Liberty (CNL) party with 24.19% of the vote.

Seven candidates were running for president and two of them were independent. For this ballot, Mr. Kazihise will reveal that the participation rate was 87.71%. The number of registered voters was 5,113,418, and the number of those who voted was 4,484,928.

The ruling CNDD-FDD party also leads with 68.02% of the votes for the MPs according to these same results proclaimed by the CENI. In second position is still the CNL party with 22.43%, and then comes UPRONA with 2.02%.

He specifies that only three political parties having totaled at least 2% of the votes will be able to sit in the National Assembly. These are CNDD-FDD, CNL and UPRONA.


Agathon Rwasa says he is disappointed

On the CNL side, these results are disappointing. In an interview with the BBC on the evening of Monday, May 25, Agathon Rwasa argued that the results announced by the CENI are the opposite of the vote of the population. “We have collected irrefutable evidence transmitted to us by our agents present at the various polling stations and attesting to the victory of our party during the elections of May 20!”

For Evariste Ndayishimiye, these results are “a democratic lesson” to the rest of the world

“We have just honored ourselves, showing Burundians and the world that we no longer need lessons in democracy. It is rather our turn to teach it to others! Such are the remarks made this Monday, May 25 by Major General Evariste Ndayishimiye, candidate for the CNDD-FDD, provisionally proclaimed winner of the presidential election by the CENI.

In an audio message, Mr. Ndayishimiye said that his victory was that of all Burundians fond of democracy. He affirms, as promised during the electoral campaign, that he will be the servant of all Burundians without any distinction.

To support the victory of his party, Evariste Ndayishimiye called on all Burundians to preserve peace and security. “Let no one bother your neighbor on the pretext that he ‘ voted for this or that other party.”

In his speech, Mr. Ndayishimiye also touched on the issue of Burundians in exile. In a tone that sounds reassuring, he urged them to return to build their motherland.

UPRONA party ready to congratulate CNDD-FDD candidate before his victory is announced

Just after the announcement of the provisional results of the elections, the UPRONA’s candidate was quick to congratulate Major General Evariste Ndayishimiye.

In an exclusive interview to Iwacu on Sunday May 24, Gaston Sindimwo had said well before this proclamation that his party was taking “note of the results.”

The outgoing First Vice-President also said that he was ready to continue to work with CNDD-FDD: “We have worked with CNDD-FDD for a long time. What would prevent us from working together again? ” .

As a reminder, the collaboration of the party of Prince Louis Rwagasore with the ruling party has always been a hot topic within this political party since 2005. Some wish that UPRONA join the opposition while others advocate the “political realism” to govern even with the CNDD-FDD. This led to the breaking of the party into several rival wings.

A small significant fact amused journalists during the ceremony to proclaim the results of the triple ballot of May 20: the president of UPRONA party, Abel Gashatsi, arrived at Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika with an already- written congratulation message to the candidate Evariste Ndayishimiye!

Kira-Burundi: “We welcome the provisional results announced by the CENI on May 25 and congratulate the new leaders”

“The Kira-Burundi coalition, strong in its commitment to stabilize our country, wishes future leaders every success,” said Aloys Baricako, president of Kira-Burundi Coalition, in a press conference held on Tuesday, May 26.

According to him, despite the difficulties and other frustrations caused by the Independent National Electoral Commission to this coalition, it is time to “take note” of the provisional results, which brought it to the 4th place with 0.55% of votes.

“The Kira-Burundi Coalition is a force campaigning for the stability of the country. It no longer wants to see people die, imprisoned or take refuge because of post-electoral conflicts,” said the president of this alliance.

He also said that this coalition keeps hope that the Burundian people will reach a political maturity to distinguish between a real or fictitious society program.
However, this coalition called on future leaders to improve the socio-security environment of the country, to release political and opinion prisoners. It also asks them to ensure the return to the country of all refugees.

Independent candidate Francis Rohero denounces numerous irregularities

“We note with bitterness that the Burundian people did not vote for a program, but for groups supposed to be forces capable of overthrowing others!” says Francis Rohero, unsuccessful presidential candidate of May 20.

In a press release on Wednesday, May 27, Mr. Rohero pointed out the irregularities that characterized the triple ballot. Among other things, he mentioned the fact that he was sidelined during the appointment of members of the polling stations, the electoral lists which were not made public, the imprisonment of his representatives, access to the polling station denied to his agents and the intimidation which led to their resignation.

However, in his same message, Francis Rohero stated that he could not deny or confirm that there had been electoral fraud, the reason being that he was unable to observe the elections at all the polling stations. Due to lack of resources, only one thousand representatives were operational on polling day. As a result, the independent candidate said “to take note” of the results announced on May 25 by the CENI.

However, Mr. Rohero gave a message to the newly-elected officials. For him, being President of the Republic, deputy or municipal councilor, should imply a conviction to apply a program of public safety, especially since they are going to lead a country where the level of satisfaction of the population is extremely low.

“Our congratulations to them do not come from the positions they will occupy, but from a considerable improvement in the satisfaction of the Burundian people in the fields of education, health, justice, security, employment and in the ability of the people to come together,” he said.
For the rest, he promised to continue working for the well-being of Burundians as a political actor.

Dieudonné Nahimana : “CENI should have recognized flaws that occurred during the electoral process”

“I regret that the CENI did not recognize that there were some irregularities in the organization of the poll,” said candidate Dieudonné Nahimana , following an interview with Iwacu in the morning of Wednesday, May 27.

However, according to him, these irregularities do not invalidate the results proclaimed but ” there should have been an attitude of recognition of the flaws that occurred during the electoral process by the CENI ”


Sahwanya-Frodebu: “Read the law, only the law ! “

Contacted by Iwacu this Thursday, May 28 on the irregularities raised here and there during the triple ballot of May 20, the spokesman of Sahwanya-FRODEBU party, Phénias Nigaba, asked anyone who feels dissatisfied to go to court. “The only solution is to go to the competent courts.”

“If there is one, it is necessary that the courts read the law!” As a reminder, through a press release of May 25, Sahwanya-FRODEBU party said it had “taken note” of the provisional results announced for the triple ballot on May 20.


Catholic bishops draw up overwhelming assessment of triple ballot of May 20

Although they say the elections were peacefully conducted, the Conference of Burundi Catholic Bishops (CECAB), speak about an electoral process heavily tainted with irregularities.
In their press release dating on Tuesday, May 26, the Catholic bishops spoke of a triple ballot devoid of “elements that should characterize truly democratic elections.”

“We deplore a lot of irregularities with regard to freedom and the transparency of the electoral process as well as fairness in the treatment of candidates and voters,” said Archbishop Joachim Ntahondereye, President of CECAB.

Among other irregularities noted by the bishops, the constraints exerted on certain agents to sign in advance the reports of the counting of the contents of the ballot boxes, the stuffing of some ballot boxes, the vote in place of the deceased and the refugees as well as multiple and therefore invalid proxies.

That’s not all. The Catholic bishops also regretted that there were, in certain polling stations, voters who had voted several times. They condemned the exclusion of political representatives and observers from the places where the votes were counted, the intimidation and constraints exerted on voters by certain administrative officials who accompanied them to the voting booths.

The Catholic bishops also spoke of elections marked by the intrusion of unauthorized persons into the places where the votes were counted and the confiscation of the credentials and telephones of certain observers. Worse, argued the bishops, the secrecy of the ballot was not guaranteed everywhere.

Call for tolerance

This led the bishops to doubt the results announced by the CENI. “We wonder if these irregularities do not prejudice the results to be proclaimed!» said Boshop Joachim Ntahondereye, chairman of this conference and Bishop of Muyinga.

The Catholic bishops called for calm and recommended all those who feel dissatisfied, to privilege authorized ways to be restored to their rights. “Whatever the case, we condemn all injustices as much as we refuse any recourse to violence!”

Also, the Catholic bishops were surprised that people were “persecuted” for political reasons and called on the public authorities to put an end to it.

“We recommend that the authorities punish all those who, after the vote, persecute their neighbors and ask the high authorities to discourage all those who are tempted to torment others for having manifested political tendencies different from theirs.”

They recall that the multiparty system is recognized in Burundi: “From the moment when the law had authorized several candidates to conduct campaign, each citizen had the right to express their support for the candidate of their choice.”

The Catholic bishops stressed that they had delegated 2,716 observers and that “although their number turned out to be less than the number of polling stations,” they affirmed that they had been able to reach all the communes where they were deployed in targeted offices.

Diplomats accredited to Bujumbura issue a very discreet statement

In a statement released on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, the heads of diplomatic missions based in Burundi have said they “take note” of the provisional results of the presidential and legislative elections announced by the CENI on Monday. These diplomats asked the national actors to avoid any violence.

Whereas the CNL of Agathon Rwasa, the main challenger of the ruling party CNDD-FDD contested these results and spoke of electoral fraud, these diplomats “encourage all actors in the electoral process to preserve a peaceful climate.”

They reiterate the call of the African Union Commission and the United Nations Secretariat, which asked all political actors to refrain from any act of violence and to favor concerted action in dealing with electoral disputes.

These heads of diplomatic missions highlight the collective interest and urge all national actors “to show responsibility and to resolve disputes that may result in the electoral process through established legal procedures.”

They reiterated their desire to support the Burundian people in their progress towards stability, democracy and justice, in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN for 2030.

Contacted, some politicians close to the government welcomed this press release, but without much enthusiasm. The text remains very cautious.

On the side of the opposition, a form of disappointment emerges. “This is a very “soft” press release. We would have preferred a stronger statement compared to the complaints expressed by CNL party in particular,” reacted anonymously a member of the opposition.

An international relations expert interviewed by Iwacu said that “it is a compromise text between countries with sometimes quite divergent diplomatic views.” For him, “the call comes from a wide range of African, American, Chinese and European diplomats. It is difficult to do more with a group like that. In this context it is already a lot! ”

The expert drew attention to the fact that in diplomacy “the relevance of an element is rendered by its absence “. He explains that it is necessary to read between the lines: “You will notice for example that nowhere the winner is congratulated, but rather the Burundian people. The diplomats also insist on a peaceful resolution of electoral disputes. In diplomacy, that tells a lot,” said the expert.

This group of heads of diplomatic missions accredited to Burundi is made up of the Ambassadors of South Africa, Germany, Belgium, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, the Netherlands,

the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the United Republic of Tanzania, Turkey, the European Union, Chargé d’Affaires of the United States, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and the United Nations Resident Coordinator.

Kazihise, bishops and figures

The chairman of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) held a press conference this Thursday, May 28. Before denying the provisional results of the elections of May 20 which he had himself proclaimed on Monday at the Club du Lac, Mr. Kazihise questioned the competence of the observers of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Burundi (CECAB) without ever citing them.

“It is not understandable that of 39 observation organizations, only one noticed things that the 38 other organizations did not observe,” said Pierre-Claver Kazihise. But he acknowledged that each observer was free to do what he or she did “although there are standards for electoral observation “.

The president of CENI said that the organization which sends observers to the field must be able to analyze whether they have followed the rules of observation. According to him, however, they have been trained. “We have held several meetings with observers training them on their mission so that they will be effective. But it is not an easy task. When you send people with no experience to the field, it is quite possible that they produce an erroneous report.”

The president of CENI considers that the organization which sent these observers whose conclusions differ from those of other observers must hold them accountable.
Pierre-Claver Kazihise announced that he plans to hold a meeting when all the observers have submitted their reports.

“It is to discuss with each other to see if indeed they were able to achieve the work for which they were prepared”.

The president of CENI intends to invite all the organizations to this meeting. “Even the organization whose conclusions are quite marginal will be invited.”
It’s a clear but discreet allusion to the Burundian Church.
We noted in passing that the CENI finds it normal to train observers of the elections it organizes…

“It’s a draft which was published”

During this press conference, the president of CENI also expressed himself the provisional results of the elections published on the CENI website, but withdrawn afterwards without explanation.

“These figures should have not been published because they were not well controlled,” said the chairman of CENI. He claimed that they did not have the approval of the CENI office. According to him, it is normal that “the figures which are not officially published should be removed from the site”.

It is true that the inconsistency of the figures on certain slides was widely commented on the internet, confirming the doubts of many observers and political parties about the credibility of the process.

“We ordered that these slides be removed from our site, but I don’t know if you observed correctly: did these slides bear the CENI seal?” asked Pierre Claver Kazihise.

However, these slides were not different from those projected on Monday at Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika when the provisional results of the May 20 triple ballot were announced.

“There are those who rushed to post documents. All our official documents must imperatively be sealed”. He made a promise: “Soon we will put the figures that the office has checked and you will see that these figures will probably be more accurate. But always check if they carry the seal of the CENI.

There was simply a publication of a draft which was not ready to be published,” he explained but could not justify it.

On the question of the blocked lists with candidates withdrawn and replaced by others from the same list, the president of CENI refused to comment. “We do not have an answer at our level. It is rather at the level of the Constitutional Court that we will have to see. If we were wrong or if we did not handle the files well, at the level of this body, we should be able to rectify the situation,” said Pierre-Claver Kazihise.

In some cases when the appeals brought at the CEPI level were not received because some offices were simply closed, the president of the CENI reassured: “In principle if someone makes an appeal at the CEPI level, it must be received. But if this appeal is not received, there is another appeal which is possible at the level of the CENI.”

Verbatim transcript

“Yes, these figures have been removed. In fact these figures were not to be published because they had not been checked by the members of the CENI office. And it is normal that these figures which are not officially published be withdrawn. “

The CENI against the CENI!

The more one listens to Pierre-Claver Kazihise’s statement, the less one believes their ears. But there are facts: the president of the CENI in person “withdraws” the provisional results of the elections of May 20 that he presented himself to the authorities, diplomats and journalists invited to Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika on Monday for this solemn proclamation.

These are the figures, listed directly by the president of the CENI, which were displayed on screen at Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika and which were then published on the CENI website.

Everyone heard them, read them, recorded them, commented them, criticized or applauded them. We now know that they were not “checked” by the members of the CENI”.

In short, they no longer exist. It is clear that, 8 days after the triple ballot, its results, even provisional ones, are still unknown. Instead of finally publishing them “officially “, Pierre Claver Kazihize gave a press conference to deny those he had proclaimed on Monday.

Translated into English by Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana