United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appealed for Burundi’s political parties to end their bitter dispute before this month’s presidential election in the African nation.
Some 13 opposition parties have rejected the result of last month’s district poll — when the ruling CNDD-FDD won 64% of the vote — and six opposition candidates have now withdrawn, leaving incumbent Pierre Nkurunziza without a challenger.
On Tuesday, the government barred opposition parties from holding rallies if they had already pulled out of the presidential election, which is scheduled for June 28.
The poll is seen as a test of the coffee producer’s fragile democracy.
“It is upon Burundians themselves to ensure that the electoral competition is free, loyal, transparent and inclusive,” said Ban, who was addressing the national parliament during his visit to the landlocked country.
“I commend all you have done to make of elections a success and encourage you to resolve your disputes through existing legal mechanisms,” he said.
Opposition parties have accused Burundi’s National Electoral Commission (CENI) of failing to prevent fraud during the May 24 poll and demanded a re-run. CENI dismissed the call and said the presidential vote would go ahead in spite of the boycott.
Ban urged Burundians to respect the democratic electoral process and to accept the outcome of the looming poll.
“I insist on the fact that the next election be opened to all and that everyone accepts the democratic verdict of ballot boxes,” he said.
Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader, is widely expected to win a second term.
Burundi has enjoyed relative peace since the Forces for National Liberation, the last Hutu guerrilla group, agreed to lay down its weapons and join the government last year.
Pic: UN General Secretary -Ban Ki Moon