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Burundi defies violence and condemnation to hold elections

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– ‘Sham elections’ –

Almost five million are registered to vote, but the opposition are boycotting the polls, claiming it is not possible to hold a fair vote.

Voting for the parliamentary and local elections begins at 6am (0400 GMT) Sunday, with the presidential vote due to follow on July 15.

Commission chief Ndayicariye said he had not received any official notification confirming the opposition withdrawal from the vote.

“This is nothing new in Burundi. In Africa, boycott is another way of doing politics,” he said. The opposition boycotted polls in 2010.

Nditije insisted however that the letter announcing a boycott had been handed to the commission, and it of “lying” so as to pretend the poll will be credible.

Burundi was plunged into turmoil in late April when Nkurunziza launched his drive for a third consecutive five-year term, triggering widespread protests. READ: Burundi’s ruling party boycotts UN mediated crisis talks.

Opponents say his bid for another term is unconstitutional and violates a peace accord that paved the way to end 13 years of civil war in 2006.

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Civil society groups backed the boycott in a joint statement calling on voters to skip the “sham elections” and urging the international community “not to recognise the validity” of the polls.

The ruling CNDD-FDD’s youth wing, the fearsome Imbonerakure whose name means “The Watchmen” or, literally, “Those Who See Far”, has been accused by the UN of waging a campaign of intimidation and violence.

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