Burundians voted for a new parliament on Monday after a night of sporadic blasts and gunshots and weeks of violent protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s attempt to win a third term in office. Voting appeared slow in several districts for an election boycotted by the opposition and condemned by the international community as lacking the conditions to ensure it was fair. “We don’t see many people,” one diplomat said. The European Union, a major donor to the aid-reliant country, threatened on Monday to withhold more funds after Burundi ignored U.N. and African calls for a postponement of the parliamentary vote and a presidential election on July 15. In Washington, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said there were “woefully inadequate conditions for free and fair elections” in Burundi and said the United States was “deeply disappointed” in the decision to go ahead with the vote.
The government has pressed on with the election schedule despite going through its worst political crisis since an ethnically-charged civil war ended in 2005. But opponents say the president’s bid to stand again violates the constitution.
Aimable Niyonkuru, 20, once a supporter of Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD party, said he would not vote because the president had not improved the economy or delivered on other promises. “I am really disappointed about what all politicians are doing,” he said.
Dozens of people queued at a polling station in one district in the capital Bujumbura, but in areas that have seen the most unrest against the president, there was little sign of any election.