By Leonard Kamugisha AKIDA
Reports coming in from the African impoverished state of Burundi indicates that social networks had been shut down from at least an hour to the beginning of the voting exercise with access to internet only possible via Virtual Private Networks (VPN).
Nkurunziza like his other African dictators has limited access to internet social platforms which violates people’s rights to freedom of expression. In 2016, East Africa’s dictator Museveni through Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), a government media and internet regulatory body then headed by Godfrey Mutabazi, Executive Director blocked access to social media moments towards the electoral electoral exercise. Dictatorial African governmere known for blocking internet during elections something that is against transparency and violates people’s rights to freedom of expression.
Earlier today, Burundians woke up in long lines at polling stations 6AM(04:00 GMT) to cast their votes in the first ever hotly contested presidential elections since the eruption of the 1993 civil war.
The electoral exercise involves voting for new President, Parliamentarians and Local Councillors who in turn appoint the Members of the Senate.
Pierre Claver Kazihise, the Chairman Electoral Commission of Burundi asked voters to peacefully participate in the exercise.
“We call on Burundians to massively go to vote and vote peacefully,” Pierre Claver said.
He urged that security officials won’t tolerate anyone who wants to hold gatherings near electoral polling stations as a mean of maintaining social distance to prevent the spread of corona virus.
Seven candidates are vying for the presidential hot seat but there are only two frontrunners; Ruling party’s candidate Rtd Gen Evariste Ndayishimiye of National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy (NCDD- FDD) and Oppositions Agathon Rwasa.
Elections are meant to usher in the first democratic transition in 58yrss of and will see incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza stepping down as a President for the last 15yrs.
However, political analysts have stated that Nkurunziza will remain with supreme powers in the politics of Burundi despite the accusations of violations against human rights.
President Nkurunziza will enjoy $540,000 luxury villa retirement package and government already accorded him with the title: “Supreme Guide to Patriotism” which gives him absolute powers to preside over matters of National security even though the country is under control of a new president.
Burundian Gov’t denied electoral observers from the European Union, United Nations and the African Union to witness the exercise as a mean of ensuring a free and fair elections. The latter is accused of having close collaborations with the opposition.