Burundi Opposition Leader Chosen as Parliamentary Vice President

A Burundian opposition leader who challenged President Pierre Nkurunziza’s successful bid for a third term was elected first vice president in the national assembly.

Agathon Rwasa, who won 19 percent of the vote in a July 21 presidential election that he’d withdrawn from, was chosen in a poll of 112 of the East African country’s lawmakers on Thursday, parliamentary Chairman Immaculee Nahayo said. Pascal Nyabenda, leader of the ruling CNDD-FDD party, was confirmed as president of the assembly.

During legislative polls that took place in June, Rwasa won a seat in parliament. On July 27, he said he would take part in the new government as a legislator to try and force change from within the system.

Foreign governments including the U.S. and election observers from the United Nations have said both presidential and parliamentary polls were not free or fair. Protests against Nkurunziza’s plan to run for a third term from April left at least 77 people dead and forced 180,000 to flee to neighboring countries.

U.S. President Barack Obama in Kenya on July 25 called for a political dialogue to help ease tensions after the polls.

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