BURUNDI: Elections not free and Credible, UN says

BUJUMBURA, JULY 03 2015 (CISA) – UN election observers yesterday termed the June 29 parliamentary elections in Burundi as “not free and credible.”

Elections took place “in a tense political crisis, and a climate of widespread fear and intimidation in parts of the country, Episodes of violence and explosions preceded, and in some cases accompanied Election Day activities, mostly in Bujumbura,” said the UN observers in a nine-page report.

The report came a day after fresh violence left six people dead in Capital Bujumbura, in the opposition stronghold of Citiboke district, an area that has witnessed protests against Nkurunziza’s bid.

Parliamentary elections were held on Mondaydespite an appeal by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to postpone the polls after months of civil unrest.

The UN electoral observer mission said in a report that the results of the parliamentary polls have yet to be released while the United States on Thursday July 2, through US State Department spokesman John Kirby called for presidential elections scheduled for July 15 to be delayed.

He urged the president “to place the welfare of Burundi’s citizens above his own political ambitions and participate in dialogue with the opposition and civil society to identify a peaceful solution to this deepening crisis.”

“This solution should include the delay of theJuly 15 presidential elections until conditions are in place for free, fair and peaceful elections,” Kirby added in a statement.

The report described widespread media restrictions, with journalists targeted for assaults, detentions, attacks and expulsions.

The international community’s attention to Burundi was attracted by Nkurunziza’s bid to run for a third consecutive five-year term, which is unconstitutional and violates a peace accord that ended 13 years of civil war in 2006.

At least 70 people have been killed and more than 147,000 have fled Burundi seeking refuge in neighbouring countries since the eruption of unrest in April.

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