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Fire in Bujumbura
Burundi’s Purple Finger Problem

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza awoke Tuesday morning to vote in an election that, if he wins it, would give him an unprecedented third term as president. And, considering that every other major opposition party has boycotted the vote, it’s expected he will.

For many Burundians, the cadence of gunfire and explosions ripping through the country’s capital the night before election day is the most immediate concern. It marks either a final thrust of election violence—or the beginning of another round of terrible ethnic and tribal violence. The New York Times

On Tuesday morning, large crowds gathered in several Bujumbura neighborhoods hostile to the president, tearing up cobblestone streets, knocking down signs and setting tires ablaze to create roadblocks.

In the Nyakabiga neighborhood, the site of many protests in the spring, residents awoke to find the body of a known opposition supporter in a ditch.

Many other people were afraid to be seen as taking sides. Outside a polling place in Cibitoke, another neighborhood where there have been protests, Ndizeye Leonidas, 30, rubbed his ink-stained finger in the dirt. “I do not want others to know I voted,” he said.

Looking around, seeing few other people casting ballots, he was not optimistic. “I am afraid there is going to be a civil war,” he said, before tucking his hand into his pocket and walking off.

The country’s last civil war ended just ten years ago and resulted in over 300,000 Burundian deaths, and Burundians seem to see trouble once again on the horizon. According to the story, Doctors Without Borders is reporting that as many 1,000 Burundians are fleeing into Tanzania each day. With Nkurunziza’s election all but assured, it remains to be seen if his gamble for a third term will pay off, or if he will have brought his country back to the brink of another deadly conflict.

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