Following week-long protests in Bujumbura, the Burundian capital, the East African Community (EAC) Friday urged the government and all parties to ensure the electoral process not to cause a humanitarian crisis.
“We (the EAC) urge the Burundian government and all actors to ensure that the electoral process does not lead to a humanitarian crisis. We are concerned about some Burundian citizens who are seeking refuge in neighboring countries due to fear of election- related violence,” said EAC Secretary Richard Sezibera in a press statement.
He commended EAC partner states which received those asylum seekers and urged the international community to offer its support.
“We urge the government to continue with the dialogue process that brings together all stakeholders to deliberate on key issues of potential impact for a peaceful, free and fair electoral process,” said Sezibera.
Burundi has made substantial progress toward establishing and maintaining peace and stability in the last decade and the forthcoming elections provide an “opportunity” to consolidate and enhance the country’s social and economic development, he said.
The bloc, grouping Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania, said that it is committed to supporting Burundi in the attainment of free and fair elections.
The opposition and some civil society organizations held a mass rally here on Sunday in protest of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s attempt to run for a third-term in the upcoming presidential election.
Nkurunziza was elected by his party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy, last week as the party’s candidate in the upcoming presidential election, a move sparked criticism from the opposition and the civil society on the grounds that it would be a violation of the country’s constitution and the Arusha Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Burundi.
The constitution and the Arusha Agreement stipulate that a president of Burundi cannot serve the country for more than two terms.
Nkurunziza was elected by parliament in 2005 and directly re- elected by citizens in 2010.
Burundi is to hold general elections between May 26 and Aug. 24, with the presidential election to be held on June 26. Enditem