EU observers say satisfied with Burundi poll


Burundi’s district elections, seen as a test of the tiny African country’s stability ahead of presidential elections in June, met international standards, European observers said.

Monday’s elections were the first of a series of polls in which the coffee-producer will also vote for representatives to parliament and its next president. District polls are often an indicator of how the rest of the vote will go.

Eight Burundi opposition parties said on Wednesday the national electoral commission (CENI) should organise fresh district elections, arguing this week’s vote was marred by massive fraud and irregularities.
“The electoral process has generally respected international standards in terms of democratic elections, said Renate Weber,” head of the European Union observers’ mission.

The country of 8 million has enjoyed relative peace since the last Hutu rebel group, the Forces for National Liberation laid down arms last year and joined the government.

Weber told a news conference that 41 observers visited 189 polling stations in the 129 districts across the country.
“In the 95.6 percent of polling stations monitored by the EU observers, they assessed that the voting system was very good or good. And in 42.9 percent of polling stations, the observers judged that the vote-counting was very good or good,” she said.

The mission said the electoral commission should take appropriate measures to avoid delay to remaining elections before the presidential poll. Monday’s vote was postponed twice due to logistical problems involving voting cards and materials.

Eight parties protested that early results announced by local media showing the ruling CNDD-FDD had won in most of the 129 districts were incorrect.

The parties were joined yesterday by the main Tutsi dominated UPRONA, which said the vote was characterised in many constituencies by rigging and acts of intimidation.

The EU observer team said it had not detected cases of fraud in areas where it monitored the poll. The electoral commission is due to publish provisional results on Friday (today).

President Pierre Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD will be battling for votes with the former rebel Forces for National Liberation of Agathon Rwasa.

A political party that gets over 50% of the votes in the communal election in the first round is likely to win the presidential and parliamentary poll.

Pic: President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi