Presidential Election in Burundi : Our Organisations Launch an Appeal for Calm

Press release
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Paris, Nairobi, Bujumbura, June 25, 2010 – The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation in Burundi, the Ligue ITEKA, launch an appeal for calm on the eve of the presidential election scheduled for June 28, 2010, to which the incumbent President, Pierre Nkurunziza, is the only candidate.

Since the results of the May 24 local elections, which have been challenged by the opposition, and the announcement by the opposition candidates of their withdrawal from the presidential election, Insecurity is growing in Burundi.

Twenty-one people were injured, among which two seriously, in the explosion of five grenades on the night of 18 to 19 June 2010. This brings up the results of the grenade attacks perpetrated from June 14 to 20 to a total of two deaths and 37 wounded people, according to police sources.

In addition, a dozen activists of the Front National de Liberation (FNL) were injured during a forceful intervention by the police on June 15, 2010 while they were gathered around the home of their leader Agathon Rwasa, following a rumor about his arrest. Dozens of activists have been arrested.

"Even if conditions do not exist to allow citizens to freely choose their representative, in the absence of opposition candidates, we call on the Burundian population, media, political parties and security forces to remain calm" said Dismas Kitenge Senga, FIDH Vice-President. The acts of insecurity, that have increased in recent weeks, whatever their origin, have no other consequence than hampering the peace efforts undertaken by the entire Burundian society after years of civil war [1]. "The use of violence is a mistake, regardless of the objections made on the electoral process" said Joseph Ndayizeye, President of the Ligue ITEKA. Our organisations hope that Burundian voters will be able to express their choice in the coming elections.

Our organisations call on:

*the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) to take all necessary measures, using all legal means at its disposal, including the Electoral Code, to ensure the organisation of a free, transparent and secure process for the coming polls, including the presidential election ;

*the security forces, the presidential party, the opposition political parties, media and citizens to remain calm and to respect the provisions of the Electoral Code and the Code of Good Conduct ;

*Burundian authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of members of political parties and of all citizens ; to ensure in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of those who have been arrested and detained and to ensure their right to a fair trial ;

*the Burundian justice to investigate the murders that occurred during and after the electoral campaign for the local elections, and to prosecute and punish the perpetrators.

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