By Jean Gatera
Three days after the publication of provisional results last week the chairperson of the Electoral Commission (CENI) of Burundi, Pierre Claver Kazihise announced that the Commission had removed election results from its website. The removal was made after a series of serious inaccuracies observed in the provisional results circulated on mainstream, and social media.
The deleted results contained several inaccuracies such as four provinces with the exact same results, or disparities whereby votes outnumbering registered voters a multiple times, amongst others. On social media screenshots were circulating of results containing basic arithmetic errors that favored the ruling party.
Kazihise had called a press conference to address allegations by the Catholic Church that “the election results were not credible.” When the issue of online availability of the results was raised, Kazihise made the announcement, described as “stunning” by those present. “Yes, these figures have been removed. In fact, these figures should not have been published because they had not been checked; they had not been certified by the members of the CENI bureau,” said the president of the Electoral Commission in a press conference at the Electoral Commission offices.
He added that the figures should, therefore, be considered as a “draft”.
Experts and analysts were surprised by CENI’s decision to call the provisional results “drafts”, as well as the decision to pull them from public view. A legal expert explained: “the problem is that there is no provision for draft results. There are provisional results proclaimed by CENI, and definitive results delivered by the constitutional court. If the CENI says that what was on their website was a draft, then it simply means provisional results are still unknown!”
The situation is further complicated given that the opposition filed against the now-deleted results in Burundi’s constitutional court. The opposition rejected the results saying that numbers “were cooked”.
Burundi’s general election was held on 20th of the preceding month, and provisional results were announced five days later. Unlike previous polls in Burundi, there were no foreign or regional observers in the 2020 elections.