Challenger Wins Burundi Election

<i> Reuters</i>

Challenger Melchior Ndadaye toppled military President Pierre Buyoya in Burundi’s first free elections Wednesday to give the majority Hutu tribe its first national leader.

Official provisional results gave Ndadaye, a 40-year-old banker, 60% of the vote, confounding forecasts that Buyoya, 44, would win to extend the presidency he seized in a 1987 coup.

The results overturned centuries of Tutsi domination of the majority Hutu. Hundreds of thousands of Hutu were slaughtered in a series of abortive uprisings over the last three decades.


Ndadaye said his first steps as president will be to “reassure the country and calm the losers.”

“The government is in a state of total shock. The Tutsis are very upset. They just did not expect this to happen,” said one foreign election monitor, who asked not to be named.

The presidential vote, the first free election since independence from Belgium in 1962, is to be followed by legislative elections on June 29 to cap a two-year transition to full democratic rule.