EAC, UN call for peace in Burundi

protesters_against_policemen_at_ntahangwa_bridge

Police against protestors at Ntahanga bridge in the capital Bujumbura

 

The Secretary General of the East African Community Dr. Richard Sezibera has asked the Government of Burundi to ensure that the impending electoral process does not lead to a humanitarian crisis.

Dr Sezibera said the elections should provide an opportunity to consolidate the substantial progress made in establishing and maintaining peace and stability in Burundi over the last decade. General elections in Burundi are to be held in May, June and July 2015.

Dr Sezibera called on all political actors to honor a code of good conduct signed on March 09, 2015 committing to refrain from pursuing violence in the electoral process adding that the absence of peace in Burundi would destabilize the rest of the region.

“The EAC notes that the attainment of peace and stability in Burundi amounts to peace and stability in the entire region and urges all regional and international stakeholders to actively engage in the attainment of these objectives,” Dr Sezibera said in a statement that this website has obtained.

His call comes amid serious criticism of authorities in Burundi for a series of alleged rights violations including the use of live ammunition against protesters.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Burundi said that hundreds of people have been detained since last Sunday following protests at news that incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza is to run for a third term in office. It also confirmed reports of state-sponsored beatings and people being forced to sleep standing up while in detention.

The spokesperson for the UN human rights office Rupert Colville said there was deep concern at the Burundian authorities attempts “to curtail” people’s right to freedom of expression and assembly. With the election campaign due to begin in nine days, Rupert said the authorities needed to allow a “free and fair space” for it to take place

There have been seven straight days of protests in the capital Bujumbura, marking the biggest political crisis in the small, landlocked nation in the heart of Africa since the ethnically fueled civil war came to an end.

But the demonstrations which started on Sunday have picked up momentum and spread outside the capital Bujumbura. The presidency has called the protests an “insurrection”.

Nkurunziza has urged the protesters to stay off the streets. On Friday he said those found guilty of involvement in the demonstrations would face “severe sanctions”.