Polls open in Burundi local elections

May 24, 2010 12:00 am

, BUJUMBURA, May 24 – Local polls kicked off Monday in Burundi, the first phase of an electoral marathon set to put the small war-scarred African nation\’s peace deal and democratic credentials to the test.

Polling stations opened at 6:00 am (0400 GMT), with some 3.5 million voters called to pick local councillors in a vital ballot ahead of presidential and legislative elections due in June and July respectively.

President Pierre Nkurunziza\’s ruling party is seeking to retain power but will face a stiff challenge from several opposition parties in the first elections in which all the country\’s political forces are represented.

The polls were delayed twice from Friday as a result of problems with the supply of voter cards and ballots, a hitch that heightened concerns over the vote\’s credibility despite the electoral commission\’s assurances.


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