U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Burundi’s election this week “deeply flawed” and urged President Pierre Nkurunziza to hold a “meaningful, serious” dialogue with the African country’s opposition, the State Department said. Nkurunziza won a third term in Tuesday’s election, which was boycotted by the opposition. Rivals accused him of violating the constitution by running for another five years in office. The election commission said on Friday that the president, who cited a court ruling saying he could run again, had secured 73 percent of the vote. Nkurunziza’s re-election bid has plunged Burundi into its biggest crisis since an ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005. Dozens of people have been killed in weeks of protests and more than 170,000 have fled to refugee camps in neighboring states.
“It is imperative that the government of Burundi re-engage in a meaningful, serious dialogue with opposition and civil society leaders to reach a consensus on the way forward,” Kerry said in a statement on Friday, declaring the vote “deeply flawed”.
The ruling CNDD-FDD party dismissed U.S. criticism of the election that came even before voting began. Party chief Pascal Nyabenda said U.S. officials’ remarks were “negative and nihilistic” and implied “the Burundian people cannot rule themselves.”
Weeks of talks between the government, opposition parties, civil society groups and others failed to resolve differences.