Burundi protests
Burundians opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza have been protesting for over 50 days now Reuters

Burundi's opposition has claimed the appointment of two new members of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) was illegally conducted.

The new members are replacing Spes-Caritas Ndironkeye, who was the CENI vice-president, and Illuminata Ndabahagamye, in charge of finance and administration, after they confirmed their resignation on 1 June stating that "the prevailing political and security environment does not offer ideal conditions" for holding elections.

It is estimated that between 60 and 70 people have died and around 150,000 civilians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries since the start of the violence on 26 April, when Burundi's ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party nominated President Pierre Nkurunziza to stand for re-election.

Opposition leaders want the president to withdraw his third-term bid, claiming it violates the country's constitution and the Arusha Accords, a peace deal that ended ethnic civil war and established the foundation for Burundi's post-conflict recovery in 2005.

But Nkurunziza's supporters argue the president's first term should be discounted as he was chosen by the Parliament and not by the people in an election as is specified in the agreement.

'Flawed' appointments?

Burundi's CENI filled two vacant committee positions, despite a boycott of the process by opposition parties, after the National Assembly and Senate – both dominated by the ruling CNDD-FDD party – overwhelmingly approved the two new election commissioners.

Annonciate Niyonkuru, the future CENI vice-president and Alice Nijimbere, both Tutsi and from the Uprona party, were approved on Friday (12 June) evening by the National Assembly and the Senate.

The opposition, however, considers the appointments to be merely the result of a show vote, while MPs claim they were flawed.

"The new members of the CENI have been appointed in a flawed manner. First, we've been told that, at the National Assembly, there was the procuration of someone who had died," Frederic Banvuginyunvira, vice-president of opposition party the Front for Democracy in Burundi (known by its French acronym Frodebu), told IBTimes UK on Monday (15 June).

'Impossible' votes cast

It is alleged that Claudine Rukuki, a CNDD MP, voted for the new CENI members while "in a coma". Rukuki was a secretary on the assembly's committee on public accounts and finance, economic affairs and planning.

"She died last week. In any case, before the designation of the new members, the lady was in a coma, and someone who is in a coma can not sign a procuration. It means it was signed by someone else," Banvuginyunvira said.

Poppon Mudugu, former first secretary of the Uprona party, from the "Mukasi" branch, confirmed Rukuki had died last week after spending a month in a coma.

"She was in a vegetative state, which means she would have not been able to send a procuration or write something," the MP, who fled to Rwanda in May after the Muslim leader of minority party the Union for Peace and Democracy (UPD) Zedi Feruzi was assassinated, told IBTimes UK.