Provisional results in Burundi’s controversial presidential elections are expected on Friday.
Ahead of the results, a civil society leader has told RFI that he will not recognise Pierre Nkurunziza as president at the end of his current mandate.
Rights group Amnesty International has published a report accusing security forces of punishing protesters for expressing their political views in a violent crackdown.
The US said the election will not be credible as it has been tainted by the government’s harassment of opposition and civic groups, closing down of media outlets and intimidation of voters.
Nearly 4 million Burundians were eligible to vote in Tuesday’s elections, initially scheduled for July 15 but delayed by demonstrations over Nkurunziza’s controversial decision to run again.
Nkurunziza, a 51-year-old former Hutu rebel leader and sports teacher, announced his decision to run for a third term in April in violation of Burundi’s Arusha Agreement, signed in 2000 by representatives from the country’s political parties, which states Burundi’s presidents should not serve more than two terms.
Nkurunziza ready to form unity government
However, opposition which boycotted the election saying it would never be free and fair now demands the formation of a unity government.
Agathon Rwasa, a former rebel leader like President Nkurunziza in Burundi’s civil war, told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday that there was an urgent need to prevent generals behind a failed coup in May taking up arms in the crisis sparked by the incumbent’s bid for a third term in office.
“Some have already been waving the threat of armed struggle,” he said.
“For the sake of Burundi, the idea of a government of national unity can be accepted,” he said, adding his demands also included new elections, possibly in a year.
Reacting to the call from the opposition, a presidential official told Reuters that Nkurunziza would not oppose forming a national unity government in the event of him winning the election.
“A government of national unity is not a problem for Pierre Nkurunziza, we are ready to do so,” Willy Nyamitwe, adviser to the president said.
But he rejected the idea of cutting short any new five-year mandate as “impossible”.
Nkurunziza is widely expected to win a third consecutive term.
The opposition have denounced the candidacy of the incumbent president as unconstitutional and a violation of the 2006 peace deal that ended a dozen years of civil war and ethnic massacres in 2006.
Nkurunziza, first elected in 2005, recently survived a failed coup attempt by army generals in May.