Burundian presidential election, 2010
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Unlike the 2005 election, the 2010 election was a direct election by all voters, not by parliament. In early March 2010, the run-up to the election was called "explosive" due to a combination of demobilized former combatants and violence between youth activists in the ruling CNDD-FDD and opposition FRODEBU.
Following the Burundi Civil War, between the Tutsi and Hutu (similar to Rwanda), the National Liberation Forces (FNL) were brought into the legal political sphere and were said to be the incumbent Pierre Nkurunziza's most viable opposition. But through a campaign of intimidation in the run up to the vote, as well as alleging fraud in earlier local elections, all the other candidates withdrew from the ballot leaving just Nkurunziza. On 1 June 2010, five opposition candidates, including Agathon Rwasa (considered the strongest contender against the incumbent), withdrew from the election, alleging that the government intended to rig it.
The day before the election three grenade attacks were reported in the early hours of the morning. Two were in the capital's Buyenzi and Kamesa districts, causing no injuries, and one exploded in the western town of Kanyosha, killing one and wounding two. The person killed was supposedly an official with the FNL. Another man was shot dead in Bujumbaura's Musanga neighbourhood in a suspected politically motivated attack. On election day, three more grenade attacks occurred in the capital Bujumbura, while two more exploded in the north of the country. In all, at least eight people were killed and more than 60 wounded since the opposition candidates pulled out of the race.
The FNL were suspected of the grenade attacks, when local police searched the home of the party's leader, Agathon Rwasa. However, the FNL denied involvement in the attacks and has said that their leader is being targeted for political reasons. According to party chairman Alexis Sinduhije of the Movement for Solidarity and Development, police also arrested six members of his party.
In the FNL bastion of Kanyosha, only a handful of voters turned out to vote, as compared to hundreds who voted in the local council elections just one month before. The chair of an international observation mission, Lydie Nzengou, affirmed during the day that the turnout was much lower.
|AFP, People's Daily Online|
Rwasa went into hiding upon speculation that the government wanted to arrest him on charges of planning a new insurgency. He was quoted as saying that "They're (the government) looking for me because I told the truth, because I said publicly that I don't accept the results of the local elections. [Last] Wednesday they wanted to arrest me again. I got wind of it and I disappeared from circulation." It was presumed that he was in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Towards the last days of September 2010, 14 bodies were founded gagged and bound. Authorities blamed "unidentified armed bandits," but also said "Twenty-two criminals were arrested and are detained in Mpimba prison [in Bujumbura] while 20 others were arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo and are being interrogated." Police sources added that most of those arrested belonged to the opposition Movement for Solidarity and Democracy and the National Liberation Forces.
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