UN closes its election observer mission in Burundi as death toll rises

UN observers at work during the recently concluded  general election in Burundi. Photo Credit/MENUB

UN observers at work during the recently concluded general election in Burundi. Photo Credit/MENUB

The United Nations has officially closed its elections observer mission in the conflict-strained East African nation of Burundi (MENUB) as grenade explosions and gunfire continue to claim human lives on a daily basis.

The mission that was scheduled to end December 31 this year was completed its duties this Wednesday but the UN has pledged continued cooperation with the Burundian government in the pursuit of the long lasting resolution to the crisis.

In a statement delivered by Tadjoudine Ali-Diabacté, Assistant Director of UN Electoral Division, who presided over the closing ceremony at MENUB Head Office in the capital Bujumbura, The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon lauds the mission’s successful work.

“The Mission set up on the request of the Government of Burundi fulfilled successfully its role which was to observe and report on the 2015 electoral process,” Mr. Ki-Moon said.

The UN boss assured Burundians “Though the UN Electoral Mission closes its doors, I reaffirm that the United Nations will remain unswerving in its support to the people and the Government of Burundi.”

Echoing Ban Ki-moon’s message, Issaka Souna, Acting UN Chief of Mission in the country, said the international community remains involved in the current situation in Burundi.

“Let’s recall that high attention of the international community is mobilized in favor of Burundi. The recent adoption of 2248 resolution by the UN Security Council is proof of that,” he said.

On its part, the government in Bujumbura commended the United Nations for the tremendous work and appealed for its continued partnership.

“We hope that as the electoral page is now turned despite diverging appreciations, the United Nations will pursue its cooperation with the Government of Burundi in the domains of peace consolidation and in several other socio-economic sectors,” Zacharie Gahutu, Permanent Secretary within Burundi’s Home Affairs Ministry stated.

MENUB took over from the Integrated Bureau of the United Nations in Burundi (BNUB) whose mandate was terminated in December 2014.

It should be noted the mission described the recent electoral process in Burundi as not free and fair given the overall environment was “not conducive.”

Meanwhile, violence in Bujumbura continues to worsen with routine grenade explosions and heavy gunfire leading to more loss of life.

Tuesday night, 2 people were killed and another one injured in armed attack in the southern neighborhood of Kanyosha and one victim, Elie Kwizera was found dead after being arrested by the police.

“He was heading home when he was arrested by the commander of Musaga Police Post. We were just coming to the district office to see him, but we just discovered he was killed as his lifeless body was left in a pipe,” Kwizera’s sister told this website.

Pierre Nkurikiye, police spokesman to refuted Kwizera died in police custody but pledged police investigation to establish the circumstances of his death and bring his suspected killers to justice.

“Security forces cannot arrest a person and then kill him. It’s true that we received reports on the dead person. We have undertaken investigations to know how he was killed. The perpetrator, whoever they may be, must the face wrath of the law,” Mr. Nkurikiye told a press conference in Bujumbura.

About 300 people have died in the current political crisis and hundreds of thousands have fled to neighbouring countries for safety.

Recent escalation of violence has prompted the UN, the African Union (AU) and regional leaders to consider sending peacekeeping troops to Burundi in hopes of stemming the bloodshed.

The current crisis began this April after the ruling CNDD-FDD nominated President Pierre Nkurunziza to run for the controversial third term. He has won his third term but his government has struggled to restore peace and stability in the country.