Burundi: Head of former rebel group on track to be president

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

BUJUMBURA, 11 Jul 2005 (IRIN) - The longtime leader of the former rebel movement that won Burundi's recent municipal and legislative elections, Pierre Nkurunziza, accepted on Sunday his party's choice as presidential candidate in polls due on 19 August, which some analysts say he is likely to win.

"He is going to win," Elias Sentamba, a professor of political science at the National University of Burundi, told IRIN on Monday.

He said Nkurunziza, who leads the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie -- Forces pour la defense de la democratie CNDD-FDD, already had the support of the majority of assemblymen and senator.

"Even many who are not in the CNDD-FDD could vote for them," Sentamba said.

Under the terms of Burundi's post transition constitution, the next head of state will be elected in the legislature by assemblymen and senators. The senators will, themselves, be elected on 29 July by the communal councilors.

The CNDD-FDD won the municipal and legislative elections with absolute majorities, clearing the way for an almost certain Nkurunziza victory in the presidential election.

"The final election is a simple formality," Nkurunziza told the congress of CNDD-FDD party members held on Sunday in the capital, Bujumbura, at which he was elected presidential candidate by all but six votes.

The presidential election will officially mark the end the current post-transition period that followed Burundi's 11 year civil war.

The previous presidential election, held in 5 June 1993, was a precursor to the start of the civil war. It elected the country's first Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye, who was assassinated on October 21, 1993.

Nkurunziza, 41, is a Hutu from the northern province of Njonzi. He had been a lecturer at the Sports and Physical Education Department of the University of Burundi before joining the CNDD-FDD and becoming its political leader.


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