Burundi elections: 'Don't film me' voters tell reporters as they wash off ink after casting vote

African Union has declared the situation in the country 'not conducive for credible, transparent, free and fair elections'

Rose Troup Buchanan
Tuesday 21 July 2015 10:04
A soldier attempts to rub off the indelible ink after casting his vote in Burundi's presidential election
A soldier attempts to rub off the indelible ink after casting his vote in Burundi's presidential election

People voting in Burundi’s controversial presidential election are attempting to wash the indelible ink off their fingers following a night of violence in the capital.

Crowds gathered in the capital city Bujumbura after a man – allegedly an opposition party official – was killed and his body left on the streets in an area known for its anti-government support.

Reporters in the city tweeted they heard gunfire and explosions. Another man was also reportedly killed in the city last night.

The city appeared calm but tense on Tuesday morning as voters turned out at the polls, which opened at 8am GMT and will close this evening at 6pm when counting will start.

A number of journalists tweeted they had witnessed Burundians either attempting to wash or scrap the ink off their finger following voting.

The man pictured by the BBC scrubbing his fingers reassured reporters that "everything is ok" - despite telling them he did not want people to know that he had voted.

Roughly 3.8 million Burundians are eligible to vote in the election but many civil rights and opposition supporters will boycott, claiming the election is neither fair nor free – and has already been decided.

Four of the eight candidates, including the frontrunner for the opposition Agathon Rwasa, have withdrawn their bids against incumbent president Pierre Nkurunziza.

"Despite a facade of pluralism, this is an election with only one candidate, where Burundians already know the outcome," Thierry Vircoulon, from the International Crisis Group, told Al Jazeera.

Meanwhile, people have continued to queue to vote across the country. There are reports that some small scale demonstrations have broken out but police appear to be content to stand back and watch.

Earlier this year, the nation wobbled towards chaos when a collection of opposition figures mounted a failed coup against the government following President Nkururziza’s declaration he would run for an third term in office. More than 100,000 people fled amid fears of a return to the destructive civil wars that ripped the nation apart in the last decade.

The African Union (AU), who urged for a third delay to the election, have declared conditions in Burundi “not conducive for credible, transparent, free and fair elections”.

Although the AU has not sent observers, the United Nations and the East African Community (EAC) has placed observers in the country. Talks brokered by the EAC between the government and opposition broke down over the weekend.

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