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Foreign affairs

In Burundi, voters head to the polls amid gunfire and explosions

As voters went to the polls in Burundi on Tuesday, they were met with the sounds of gunfire and grenade blasts.

President Pierre Nkurunzizas is expected to win a third consecutive term; opposition groups say his candidacy is unconstitutional and violates a 2006 peace treaty that ended a 12-year civil war. On Monday night, a police officer and civilian were killed amid violence; at least 100 people have died over the past three months during anti-government protests held in the capital of Bujumbura.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked both sides to "refrain from any acts of violence that could compromise the stability of Burundi and the region." Thierry Vircoulon of the International Crisis Group is afraid the election could restart a civil war. "Despite a facade of pluralism, this is an election with only one candidate, where Burundians know the outcome," he said. Over the past few months, Agence France-Presse reports, independent media outlets have been shut down and dissenters have left the country, and Doctors Without Borders estimates that 1,000 people are leaving every day for Tanzania.