Opposition to boycott Burundi elections, UN proposes new election calendar

MORE TIME: Abdoulaye Bathily, The UN Special Representative in Central Africa and the new mediator in the Burundi talks is proposing new election calendar

MORE TIME: Abdoulaye Bathily, The UN Special Representative in Central Africa and the new mediator in the Burundi talks is proposing new election calendar

Fifteen opposition political parties in Burundi have announced they will not be taking part in Monday 29, communal and legislative elections.

In their June 25 letter to the Chairman of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), opposition leaders claim the conditions in the country are not conducive for free and fair elections.

“The signing opposition parties and organizations would like to inform you that they cannot recognize the new electoral calendar set up unilaterally by the government and endorsed by the CENI. As a result, they will not take part in any poll organized on basis of it.” The letter reads in part.

The opposition alleges the government has ignored the recommendations made by the international community, particularly concerning consensual electoral calendar, withdrawing all weapons in the wrong hands like the CNDD-FDD’s youth militia Imbonerakure, reopening of media outlets and guaranteeing security of opposition leaders for campaigning among others.

The opposition says that unless the government commits to organising free and fair election, they will not recognize the institutions resulting from the rushed controversial electoral process.

Later Friday, Burundi’s civil society organizations engaged in the campaign against the President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial third term, echoed the opposition by calling on Burundians to boycott the “rigged elections” due Monday 29, urging the international community “not to recognize” the outcomes. “Burundians are governed by a president who only cares about himself and about his own interests.” charged anti-third term CSOs in announcement. Like the opposition, CSOs argue the prevailing conditions cannot ensure the reliability of a free, fair, democratic and transparent electoral process.

Meanwhile, the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) and the government remain adamant the elections will take place as scheduled.

The government side has also been dragging its feet in the on and off talks to end the crisis.

The talks are stalled and now the United Nations-led mediation team led by the UN Special Representative, Abdoulaye Bathily, has called for further postponement of the elections until stakeholders can come to the negotiating table and talk.

According to the new proposal put forth By Bathily Team Friday, the legislative and municipal elections should be held together with presidential polls on July 31, and if necessary the run off for presidential election should be on August 15.

The United Nations supports the proposal and urges Burundi government and all political stakeholders to peacefully resolve their differences.

In a statement issued Thursday by the Spokesman for the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the situation in Burundi, he calls upon “Burundian authorities to seriously consider the proposal put forward by the Joint International Facilitation Team to postpone the elections further in order to create a conducive environment for inclusive, peaceful and transparent elections, in line with the recent decisions of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Summit of the East African Community.”

Ban Ki-moon reiterated his “appeal to all Burundian political leaders to address the current political crisis through dialogue in the larger interest of the people of Burundi, in order to consolidate peace and security and further strengthen national reconciliation.”

As per the current contentious electoral calendar, communal and legislative (lower chamber) polls are due Monday June 29, whereas the presidential election is slated for July 15, and Senatorial on July 24.