BUJUMBURA May 18th (ABP) – Voting-age Burundians from all provinces woke up early Thursday morning to vote “yes” or “no” against the revision of the constitution, as disclosed by journalists of written press deployed in synergy throughout the territory of Burundi where observers of political parties like CNDD-FDD, ‘Amizero y’Abarundi’ Coalition, civil society organizations and representatives of the various political parties approved to participate in the referendum, were also deployed.
In Ngozi (north), the presidential family voted at Buye Basic School. Since very early in the morning, it was present at the polling station, in long lines.
The Head of State, Mr. Pierre Nkurunziza took the opportunity to welcome the enthusiasm of the people to come and perform this civic act. At 6:42 am, President Nkurunziza deposited his ballot in the ballot box of the number one polling station. In an interview with the press, he said it was a patriotic gesture he had just made and that it is part of monitoring and contributing to the development of the law in Burundi. The Head of State of Burundi emphasized that the amendments to the Basic Law stem from the aspirations of the Burundian people that expressed their wishes on the occasion of the national dialogue. He asked all citizens of voting age to come as soon as possible to express their willingness to have the counting of votes begin too early. “This way, Burundians and the world will be entitled to the results of the referendum before the end of the day,” he said.
The Buye Basic School voting center had four polling stations with 1,989 voters. In Mwumba commune, the number of voters equaled 34,982 in 34 polling centers. Only observers from the ruling party and those from an organization called RAM 15 were there.
In the Bujumbura City, at Nyakabiga Basic School, the first voters entered at 6:05 in the different polling stations. The first Deputy President of the Republic of Burundi, Mr. Gaston Sindimwo, voted at Nyakabiga Communal High Secondary School.
Observers from the CNDD-FDD and the Amizero y’Abarundi Coalition were allowed to enter in the 11 polling stations and the two voting centers. Some heads of polling stations said they were not allowed to give mid-term of voters who had already voted. They told journalists to go to the CECI (Independent Communal Electoral Commissions).
In Cibitoke province (north-west), the second Deputy President, Mr. Joseph Butore fulfilled his civic duty at Masango in Bukinanyana commune.
In Bubanza (north-west), the President of the National Assembly, Mr. Pascal Nyabenda, voted in Mpanda. In front of the polling stations of all the communes, lines of voters were already observed very early in the morning.
In Makamba (south), the President of the Senate, Mr. Révérien Ndikuriyo, voted very early in the morning at Gatwe in Kayogoro commune. The presence of CNDD-FDD, AJAP, Amizero y’Abarundi, the Methodist Church and civil society (CODIP and ACOPA) representatives were on site.
In Karusi, the referendum election was held freely, an activity that began at six in the morning as scheduled by the CENI (National Independent Electoral Commission) throughout the country. In Bugenyuzi commune, at the Canzikiro voting center, the polling stations opened with a demonstration and a check of the material at 6:10 am.
In front of each polling station were more than 150 people, while between 400 and 500 voters were expected per polling station. As irregularities noted, a man came to elect instead of his son, whereas around forty people came without a national identity card. At around 12:00 pm, the majority of voters had already finished voting. At the Buhiga Basic School, at polling station number I, 413 out of 483 registered had already voted. At polling station number II, 376 out of 500 registrants had already voted. In Gitaramuka commune, at Gisirika Communal High Secondary School where there were six polling stations, at polling station number I, 320 out of 400 registered voters had already voted. In Mutumba commune, at Mubaraga Communal High Secondary School, polling station number I, 357 out of 456 registrants had already voted. In Nyabikere commune, at the Ngugo I polling center, polling station number II, 311 out of 473 registered voters had already voted. It should be noted that between 11:00 am and 12:00 pm, the majority of registrants had already voted.
In Cankuzo province (east), the representatives of political parties and independents present at the various voting centers were from CNDD-FDD, UPRONA, FNL and Amizero y’Abarundi. A case of irregularity was observed at the Bumba polling station in Gisagara commune where a member of the Amizero y’Abarundi Coalition taught to vote “no” in the ranks. He was apprehended by police who even found that his cell contained intimidation messages. When the police took him to the police station, two other members of the same coalition intervened and released him after threatening the detaining police officer. Afterwards, all three took off.
In Muyinga (north-east), the vote of the constitutional referendum was fairly held in Butihinda commune where the polling stations opened at six o’clock in the morning with long rows of voters, with the different centers of vote. At the Taba Basic School center, out of 1,433 expected, 742 had already voted at 9:50. At the voting center N ° 3 of the Tangara Basic School voting center, a member of that polling station was absent, said Vincent Nzisabira, president of the same polling station.
As expected by the CENI, the absentee was immediately replaced by another candidate after a briefing on the mission that awaited him.
The observers already seen on those centers were from CACEDEBU, ONELOP-Burundi, CNDD-FDD and Amizero y’Abarundi to the 25 polling stations in 5 voting centers.
An incident occurred at the Itaba Basic School voting center on Bugomora hill where a soldier from Mukoni camp who would have mentally disturbed ripped a rifle at his colleague and fired a shot in the air. Voters on the spot were scattered. But the order forces (military and police) settled the case without any problem and the electors returned to the polling stations. In Butihinda commune, at 1:00 pm, there was no longer a crowd of voters in several polling stations. The head of those polling stations said that more than 90% of voters had already voted.
In Bujumbura province (west), the public responded to the 2018 referendum meeting in Sororezo and Muyira. At the headquarters of the Bujumbura province in Isare commune, out of 1,331 registered, 448 had already voted at 8:15. At the Karuyange voting center, 6 representatives of the ruling party, 2 from Amizero y’Abarundi, 1 from CODIP and 1 from ONELOP, were on the site. In Bujumbura province in general, voting began at 6:00 am as scheduled and no anomalies were reported till 11:30 am
In Kirundo (north), Bugabira Basic School and High Secondary School, the observers were from CNDD-FDD, UPRONA, CAPES +, CODIP, CPBU Church.
The Minister of Public Works, Equipment and Spatial Planning voted in his commune of Bugabira at the Sanganiro Basic School voting center. He was pleased with the participation of the people who came to vote since very early in the morning. At the Sanganiro Basic School voting center in Bugabira, the Minister said that in that commune bordering Rwanda, many people who had taken refuge in Rwanda had repatriated and were among the voters. At the Kanyinya Basic School voting center in Kirundo commune, students from Kanyinya High Secondary School dominated the queues. At 6:10 am, the center’s agents were arranging the equipment, unlike the Gikuyo Basic School voting center, where all the polling stations welcomed the first voters at 6:00 am. In Kirundo, since 11:30 am, some polling centers were at the end of the vote because the numbers of the expected people were almost reached. It is notably the center of the Mutwenzi Basic School in Kirundo commune with 4 polling stations. The total number was 1,684 out of 1,948 people expected. The representatives of the political parties were from CNDD-FDD, Amizero y’abarundi, UPRONA. The other observers came from CAPES +, ONELOP Burundi, OADAME (African Observatory for Democracy and Electoral Assistance), CPBU, the Living Church and the Anglican Church.
In Muramvya exactly at Masango Primary School, there was confusion on the finger to put in the ink after the vote. Initially, they used the index, but after listening to the chairman of the CENI on national radio, they changed and used the thumb. Only representatives of the ruling party and an observer from ACOPA were on site. At Muramvya 3 Basic School, an old woman tore her ballot in half and put some in the ballot box.
At the polling station number 7 of the same center, a young man was arrested for tearing his ballot in two pieces. At Muramvya I Voting Center and Muramvya High Secondary School, activities started late at around 7:00 am, due to lack of “vote” stamp and tampon. The problem was solved because the CECI agents brought this missing material. At the Muramvya II voting center, there were a total of four polling stations. At the polling station (BV) 1, 334 people had already voted in the middle of the day on 524 registered, or 63.7%. At the same time, at BV 2, 362 out of 537 had voted, ie 67.4%. At BV 3, 310 out of 508 had voted, 61.01%, and at BV 4, 339 out of 508 had voted, or 66.7%.
In Bukeye commune, at Bukeye I Basic School, at 12:20, 2,770 people voted out of 3,926 registered, or 70.5% while Gahaga Basic School, 1,581 people voted out of 2,034 registered, or 77.7 %. At the ETS Saint Paul Kiganda voting center, which had 4 polling stations, out of 1,625 registered, 966 had already voted at 11:20, ie more than 59%. At the voting center of Kiganda High Secondary School, which had two polling stations, out of 825 registered, 515 had voted at 10:40.
In Bururi (south-west), long lines of voters were observed at Bururi Communal High Secondary School where some people were transferred to Bururi High Secondary School because of full lists. Some refused to go there saying that they should not be the victims of an error for which they are not responsible.
The day before the election at 11:00 pm, a grenade was thrown on the Gatanga hill, Munini zone in Bururi commune, on the Muyange polling station.
Fortunately, the latter did not do any damage, according to information confirmed by the provincial police commissioner and the national intelligence officer. Remember that in the same place, another grenade was thrown during the enlistment period, without damage also.
The observers from AJAP, ACOPA, ONELOP, CNDD-FDD, SAWANYA FRODEBU, UPRONA and the Amizero y’abarundi Coalition sent their representatives on the spot.
In addition, three people including a provincial representative of Amizero y’Abarundi in Bururi province have been apprehended, caught in the act of influencing people to vote “No”. They were then brought to the police cell at the headquarters of the same province.
In Kayanza (north), Burundi ombudsman Edouard Nduwimana voted at 11:00 am at the Kigarama-Businde voting center in his native commune of Gahombo. In the Murima zone, at the voting center at the Magamba crafts school, out of 887 voters, 313 had already voted at 8:30. The political representatives or observers identified were from CNDD-FDD, Amizero y’Abarundi, AJAP, CODIP and ACOPA. Of 4,320 electors expected, 1,862 had already voted at 9 o’clock. In Ruganza I, out of 406 voters, 287 had already voted at 10:00. In some polling stations, they did not agree to accept additional voters because they had reached the number required by the CENI, that is, 50 people. That was also the case of the voting center of Acces School of Musave Basic School at the headquarters of Kayanza province.
In Gitega province (center), voting on the draft Constitution started normally in different centers. At the polls of downtown Gitega, including the Magarama Peace Basic School and the Nyamugari Islamic Community High Secondary School, voters were numerous in long lines at 6:00 am.
No irregularities were found at midday. Members of the seven downtown polling stations began by being sworn in for their commitment to wholeheartedly follow the conduct of the elections with impartiality as well as the counting of votes as they are. After the swearing in, the CENI members showed the already aligned voters that the ballot boxes are empty before their closures.
At each polling station were political representatives from CNDD-FDD, FRODEBU Nyakuri, UPRONA, FNL and the Amizero y’Abarundi Coalition, as well as observers from the Burundi Red Cross, CACEDEBU (Accompaniment job creation and community development, action for development, NAD (New Action for Development) and Free Methodist Church.
According to pieces of information provided by one of the CECI members in Gitega, the commune registered about 110,000 voters in 65 voting centers with 246 polling stations. Regarding the irregularities noted, there were some voters who presented themselves with receipts but without a national identity card.
Polling station members demanded that they return home to bring those cards. It was also reported a voter from the Mahwa polling station in Ryansoro commune who threw his voter’s card into the ballot box.
It should be noted that the governor of Gitega, Mr. Venant Manirambona, had four people released who were detained in the police cell for being accused of having continued the propaganda after the expiry of its deadlines.
In Mwaro (center-east), the activities of the referendum vote proceeded calmly. In Kayokwe and Nyabihanga communes, the operation started on time. The majority of the election sites had already exceeded 80% of the expected numbers.
Everywhere, security was provided by the police. The representatives present were mainly from the CNDD-FDD, Amizero y’Abarundi and UPRONA while the observers found at the polling stations included the Isoko Fountain, the Free Methodist Church and ONELOP Burundi.