Burundi elects former rebel as president

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The Independent Online

Pierre Nkurunziza, 40, appealed for support from all Burundians to meet the challenge of rebuilding the central African country and its shattered economy, and credited his victory to the sacrifices Burundians made during the war and in the search for peace.

"I am like a small ant on the back of a big elephant. When the elephant does something, the ant rejoices as if the ant himself has done it," said Nkurunziza, the son of a lawmaker from the Hutu ethnic majority and a nurse from the Tutsi minority. Mr Nkurunziza saw Tutsi soldiers kill his father during violence in 1972.

His election was expected because his Force for the Defense of Democracy, once Burundi's largest Hutu-led rebel group and now a political party, controls both houses of parliament. Parliament was charged with electing the president under a power-sharing constitution as part of the peace process. Hutu rebels took up arms in 1993 when the country's first elected president, was assasinated.