Burundi votes in boycott-hit poll

Grenade attacks have punctuated Burundi's parliamentary elections today.

Burundian soldiers patrol during the construction of several marquees on the outskirt of Musaga neighbourhood in Bujumbura on 28 June, 2015. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA - Grenade attacks punctuated Burundi's parliamentary elections today.

Many polls have been quiet although the electoral commission reports a massive turnout of the nearly four million registered voters.

Another grenade exploded in the capital shortly after voting began in the latest example of the weeks of violence sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza's defiant bid for a third term.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for the elections to be delayed after the opposition said they would not take part, as Burundi faces its worst crisis since civil war ended nine years ago.

The European Union condemned the decision to hold elections, saying polls "can only exacerbate the profound crisis."

Police patrolled the streets of Bujumbura, especially in opposition areas where the worst violence was seen during weeks of protests.

BLASTS

Sounds of shooting and at least two explosions were heard overnight in the capital Bujumbura. A witness reported another blast in Bujumbura's Musaga district on Monday morning.

The private Iwacu newspaper website cited police saying two grenades exploded in Mayuyu district 25km southeast of the capital. A police spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

A spate of such attacks in recent days has killed four people and wounded dozens.

The European Union said Burundi's decision to ignore UN and other international demands to delay voting further was a "serious matter" and could lead to more aid being withheld.

The EU, European nations and the United States have already halted some funds, including support for the elections. European states together fund about half Burundi's annual budget.

"The organization of legislative elections on 29 June without establishing the minimum requirements to ensure their credibility, transparency and inclusiveness, can only exacerbate the deep crisis in Burundi," the European Union said.

The African Union said on Sunday it would not send observers as it did not believe voting would be fair. The European Union also said it was withdrawing its observers.

"Not being there means they are playing the game of the radical opposition who have boycotted the process," presidential spokesman Gervais Abayeho said, adding UNobservers were still monitoring the vote.

Critics have said basic requirements for a fair poll mean ensuring the media operates freely and that the ruling party's Imbonerakure youth wing and other groups are disarmed.

The CNDD-FDD dismisses charges its youths are armed.