Burundi – 2010 Elections: An opportunity not to be Missed to Consolidate Peace

04/05/2010
Report

On the eve of the official opening of the electoral campaign that will lead Burundians to vote in 5 successive elections, including for the election, on June 28, 2010 of the President of the Republic by universal suffrage, FIDH and its member organisation, the Ligue burundaise des droits de l’Homme – ITEKA, call on the ruling party, opposition parties, medias, civil society and security forces to succeed meet the challenge of holding free, transparent and peaceful elections.

For the first time since the signature, of the Arusha Agreement in August 2000, general elections will take place in a context of peace. The last armed movement surrendered in 2009 to become a political party, the FNL. The provisions of the Arusha Agreement and the 2005 Constitution, concerning the reinsertion or integration of rebel elements within the security forces, the ethnic representation within the institutions and the return of refugees, allowed Burundi to return to peace after 12 years of civil war.

This situation, while unhoped for a few months ago, may still be perturbed by the fragility of the Rule of law. The inefficient and dependent judicial system must be reformed as a whole and the security sector reduced and depoliticised. Corruption, including at state level, and circulation of small arms and light weapons are worrying. Civil liberties must be strengthened. The FIDH and ITEKA report focuses on those problems.

It is in this sensitive context that the 5 electoral ballots will be held , a true “moment of passion, nervousness and tension” as defined by the President of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI). This tension is raised in the fact-finding mission report which goes behind the scenes of the pre-campaign. In particular, the ruling party, the CNDD-FDD, has increased its use of legal and illegal means to try to control the outcome of the election in its favor: attempts to shape the framework for the elections, attempted subordination of the CENI, manipulations during voter registration (other parties were also involved in these manipulations), support of dissenting elements within opposition parties, criminal charges against some opposition leaders, violation of political parties’ right of assembly, restriction and control of the activities of civil society.

If the vigilance of political parties, civil society and the international community has helped to thwart most of these attempts to influence the outcome of the elections, "concerns about the conditions of the electoral process remain" said President of ITEKA.

FIDH and ITEKA call upon the administration to guarantee its neutrality and the non-use of state resources during the electoral campaign and call on the freedom of national and international observers to monitor the proper conduct of voting. Our organisations also require guarantees concerning the free exercise of the Constitutional Court, which is responsible for validating the election results.

The security of political actors and members of civil society is also a key issue in these elections. An electoral process tainted with violence would inevitably hinder free and transparent elections and could jeopardise those peace efforts already made. The existence, as demonstrated in this report, of politically motivated killings and paramilitary training of the youth of the parties are particularly worrisome in this regard. This is why our organisations urge political parties, security forces and the media to denounce any kind of violence and call for immediate and effective sanctions against anyone violating the provisions of the Penal Code, the Electoral Code and the Code of Good Conduct in the electoral context.

"The 2010 elections in Burundi must lead to a democratic era for the strengthening of robust rule of law that respects human rights. The elections must not jeopardise but reinforce the peace efforts, "said Dismas Kitenge, Vice-President of FIDH.

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rapport