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Burundi Turmoil Prevents Free and Fair Elections


Election officials count votes on election day in Bujumbura, Burundi. (June 29, 2015.)

The United States is deeply disappointed that the government of Burundi proceeded with the vote despite woefully inadequate conditions for credible elections.

Preliminary returns are slowly coming in after parliamentary voting in Burundi on June 29. The district by district count was slowed by protests and a boycott by many opposition groups, following weeks of violent protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza's intent to win a third term in office.

The United States is deeply disappointed that the government in Bujumbura proceeded with the vote despite woefully inadequate conditions for credible elections. It’s also unfortunate that the authorities disregarded strong urging by the African Union, the United Nations Secretary General and many others in the international community for a delay. Because of the turmoil, the United States felt it couldn’t be part of the process, and put a hold on technical assistance planned for the Independent National Election Commission, as well as voter education activities to be coordinated with the commission.

We continue to call on President Nkurunziza to put his nation’s and his people’s welfare ahead of his wish to serve a third term, and that he heed the calls for dialogue, and demonstrate respect for the Arusha Agreement and its term limits provisions.

We urge the Burundian government to return to the table and to participate seriously in the political dialogue facilitated by UN Special Representative Bathily and others. We want all stakeholders to reach consensus on new electoral dates and find a political solution for this crisis.

Because of the current security situation and closure of political and media space, we support the AU’s decision not to send electoral observers. Free, fair and credible elections are impossible. We share the AU’s concern about the hardships facing the people of Burundi and urge President Nkurunziza to cooperate fully with the A.U. and regional organizations to resolve the current crisis and enable credible elections to go forward at a later date.

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