Burundians vote in one-man poll

BUJUMBURA - Burundians voted yesterday in polls in which President Pierre Nkurunziza is the only candidate, as a final spate of grenade attacks scarred the end of a campaign marked by an opposition boycott.

The presidential vote is the second phase of an electoral marathon that was supposed to assert the war-torn central Africa nation's democratic credentials and cement a fledgling peace deal with rebels.

Instead, its 3,5million voters were left without a choice of candidates when the opposition pulled out over fraud claims, while daily grenade blasts threatened a return to civil strife that killed 300000 people over 13 years.

Three fresh grenade attacksI were reported in the capital Bujumbura, causing no injuries, Public Security Minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni said.

At least eight people have been killed and more than 60 wounded nationwide in grenade and other attacks since a bitter political and security crisis was ignited by May 24 local council polls.

The election saw Nkurunziza's ruling party win comfortably and was given the nod by foreign observers - but the entire opposition charged the ballot was rigged and subsequently pulled out of the presidential poll.

National Liberation Forces leader Agathon Rwasa, whose rebellion only laid down arms last year and was seen as Nkurunziza's main presidential challenger, has since disappeared and is believed to have gone into hiding.

The ruling party and the opposition have blamed each other for the latest bloodshed. Residents and civil society organisations have reported cases of voter intimidation by both sides over the past few days. - Sapa-AFP