Burundi: UN Monitors Slam Burundi Election

Burundi’s parliamentary election has been declared neither fair nor free by UN monitors. Monday’s poll was boycotted by opposition parties. The USA says Burundi’s July 15 presidential election should be delayed.

In a preliminary report published on Friday, UN observers said this week’s poll took place in a climate of fear that was “not conducive for free, credible and inclusive elections.”

UN spokesman Farhan Haq said “episodes of violence and explosion preceded and in some cases accompanied election day activities.”

In addition, the mission had observed restrictions on media and violations of fundamental freedoms and rights, he said.

Ruling party candidates had been able to campaign throughout Burundi. Opposition politicians had been “much less visible,” he added.

Parliamentary results awaited

Results of the poll were still awaited Friday after clashes on Wednesday left six people dead in the opposition district of Citiboke, in the capital Bujumbura.

Residents claimed that police had carried out executions. Police said a grenade was thrown at a police patrol, triggering gun battles.
Burundi Präsident Pierre Nkurunziza

From Washington, US State Department spokesman John Kirby called on President Pierre Nkurunziza to delay the follow-on presidential poll, saying this would place the welfare of Burundians “above his own political ambitions.”

Dialogue with the opposition and civil society was needed to find a peaceful solution to “this deepening crisis,” Kirby said.

Opposition Burundian parties say Nkurunziza’s bid for a third consecutive five-year term is unconstitutional and violates a 2006 peace accord.

Kirby also said the US had decided to suspend policy training projects for Burundian law enforcement agencies in response to “abuses committed by members of police during political protests.”

‘Minimum conditions’ not meet

The UN Security Council said its 15 members were concerned that “minimum conditions” for voting had not been met on Monday.

Council members have failed for months to agree on a common stance on Burundi, with Russia saying the issue is Burundi’s own internal matter. African countries have appeared reluctant to take a strong position.

East African leaders are due at a summit next Monday to discuss Burundi’s crisis.

Unrest in recent months has claimed at least 70 lives. Some 140,000 people have fled Burundi to neighboring countries.

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