The Burundian Political Actors must Take all Necessary Measures to Guarantee the Credibility of the Electoral Process

Press release
en fr

Bujumbura, Paris, 8 June 2010 - The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation in Burundi, the Ligue ITEKA, deeply regret the events that surrounded and followed the local elections of May 24, 2010 and call on all Burundian political actors to make every effort to ensure the credibility of the electoral process, which is crucial for maintaining peace and strengthening the rule of law in this country.

The local elections, the first of five elections scheduled this year in Burundi, were a test for the proper conduct of the entire electoral process. If no major security incident has been deplored the day of the election, some irregularities have surrounded the process: non-compliance with opening and closing hours in some polling stations, vote buying, ballots not put in envelopes, no double counting of votes, wearing of distinctive signs of political parties, intimidation of voters, polling booths without warranty of secret ballot, etc.

If the “massive" nature of these irregularities, advanced by the main opposition parties, has yet to be refuted or not by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), the latter must play its full role in appeasing all the actors and use all lawful means at its disposal to ensure the continuation of a regular process, inclusive and above all secure. FIDH and ITEKA worry about the acts of violence which occurred in some localities during the campaign and after the announcement of the first provisional results.

During the campaign, we can cite, among others, the assassination of a member from MSD party in the urban commune of Nyakabiga by men in uniform. On May 28, 2010, the Vice-Chairman of the party-Zigamibanga UPD, was the victim of a grenade attack in Buhinyuza, Muyinga Province, North of Bujumbura. He died from his injuries. On May 29, 2010, clashes erupted in the district of Kinama, North of Bujumbura, between police forces and activists from opposition parties following the discovery of an urn containing, according to the latter, not counted ballots. These clashes led to the arrest and detention of several opposition members.

These acts of violence are the sign of an obvious tension which, combined with the current political crisis following the withdrawal of six out of the seven candidates for the presidential election scheduled for June 28(1), may strongly affect the credibility of the entire electoral process. "As demonstrated in our report published on the eve of the first ballot2, the proper conduct of these elections, expected by all Burundian citizens, is crucial for maintaining peace and strengthening the rule of law in this country. The Burundian political class as a whole but also the international actors involved in this process should make every effort to ensure the credibility of all the polls, "said Dismas Kitenge, Vice-President of FIDH.

FIDH and ITEKA call on:

* The CENI to use all legal means at its disposal, including the Electoral Code, to ensure the organisation of an electoral process, free, secure and credible, allowing all the actors involved to adhere; to do the follow-up of the complaints lodged by political parties of the opposition ;

* The entire political class to remain calm and observe a responsible and non-violent policy ; and to comply strictly with the provisions of the Electoral Code and the Code of Conduct ;

* The Burundian authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of members of political parties and of all citizens ; and to ensure in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of the persons detained and ensure their right to a fair trial ;

* The Burundian justice system to investigate on the murders which occurred during and after the electoral campaign, to prosecute and punish the perpetrators ;

* The police forces to respect the provisions of national and international instruments for the protection of human rights within the fulfillment of their mandate ;

* The medias to conform with the provisions of the Code of Conduct, to be vigilant and professional ;

* The international community, in particular the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, expected in Burundi on June 9, 2010, to publicly call all political parties and their members to remain calm and reiterate the importance of the proper conduct of these elections for the maintaining of peace and the strengthening of the rule of law in Burundi, adopting neutral and thoughtful positions, taking into account the real situation on the ground.

(1)On June 1, 2010 Agathon Rwasa (FNL), Domitien Ndayizeye (FRODEBU), Alexis Sinduhije (MSD), Leonard Nyangoma (CNDD) and Pascaline Kampayano (UPD), announced the withdrawal of their candidacy for presidential election scheduled for June 28. On June 4, 2010, Yves Sahinguvu, First Vice-President and UPRONA candidate, also announced the withdrawal of his candidacy.

(2)See FIDH-ITEKA joint report « Les élections de 2010 : un test à ne pas rater pour consolider la paix », published on May 4, 2010.

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