The government postponed the parliamentary and local elections set for May 26 by 10 days, then 30 days, because of extreme political unrest following President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to seek a third term and the failed military coup of May 13.
The re-election bid is prohibited by the agreement that ended the nation's 1993-2003 civil war.
Opponents tried to stage the coup while he was out of the country for a regional meeting. The uprising failed, and it intensified the conflict.
Government manoeuvres ahead of the election threaten both the legitimacy of the results and the power-sharing deal that has kept Hutu-Tutsi tensions in check since the civil war. As the monopoly on power of the CNDD-FDD (National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Front for the Defense of Democracy) appears unassailable, opposition boycotts and continuing violence can be expected.
In January, Burundi opposition leaders accused the government of eliminating rivals ahead of the elections, according to AFP, after a senior opposition figure was jailed for bribery and another arrested for rebel links. Both men were leading members of Tutsi-led UPRONA (Union for National Progress), a junior party in the coalition administration. They are the latest of several politicians to face criminal charges ahead of the polls.
The CNDD-FDD holds 81 per cent of seats in parliament. UPRONA holds 11.6 per cent. FRODEBU (Burundi Democratic Front) holds 5.9 per cent. Reported disarray in several minor parties, which include MSD (Solidarity and Democracy Movement) and ADC (Democratic Alliance for Change) will weaken their chances if they contest the poll.
Date written/update: 2015-05-22