Political parties in Burundi have started campaigning ahead of next month’s presidential elections despite fears of violence and the coronavirus pandemic.
Burundi has 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus with one death and four recoveries as at April 27, 2020.
There are no restrictions on public gatherings and internal travels amid the coronavirus pandemic. That makes campaigning easier for political parties.
Burundi authorities say the vote to find a successor to President Pierre Nkurunziza will go ahead on May 20.
Nkurunziza’s ruling CNDD-FDD party has picked Evariste Ndayishimiye, its secretary general, as candidate for the presidential election.
Ndayishimiye, 52, also heads the department of military affairs in the president’s office and has served as minister of the interior and security.
Five other candidates are also vying for the presidency. That includes the first vice president Gaston Sindimwo and former president Domicien Ndayizeye.
Parliamentary and municipal elections will also be held at the same time of the presidential vote.
Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement said “These elections will be accompanied by more abuses, as Burundian officials and members of the Imbonerakure are using violence with near-total impunity to allow the ruling party to entrench its hold on power.”
In 2015 when president Nkurunziza decided to run for a third, five-year term in 2015 it sparked widespread protests and violence.
His decision to stand down was welcomed by many with the country conferring on him the title of “Supreme Guide of Patriotism” and that came with a lavish send-off perks including a villa worth $530,000.
Burundi is one of the world’s poorest countries and largely depends on donor support.