African Union Will Not Observe Burundi Elections, Speaker Flees
Election observers of the African Union in Burundi stood their ground on Sunday saying Monday’s parliamentary elections would neither be free nor fair. The speaker of Parliament said that he had fled after being threatened, as sounds of heavy gunfire echoed across the capital.
Sounds of heavy machine gunfire and grenade explosions were heard throughout the night in both northern and southern districts, during which three people were also reportedly killed, according to residents of the capital Bujumbura.
President Pierre Nkurunziza in April announced that he would be running for the third time in office, sparking turmoil in the country, exacerbating months of protests triggering an abortive military coup last month.
“Noting that the necessary conditions are not met for the organization of free, fair, transparent and credible elections … the AU Commission will not observe the local and parliamentary elections,” Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, commission chairwoman, said in a statement.
The UN also revealed on Sunday that Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has shown similar concerns like The AU regarding “the Government of Burundi’s insistence on going ahead with elections on 29 June despite the prevailing political and security environment.”
Pie Ntavyohanyuma, the parliamentary speaker said that he was threatened after opposing President’s bid for the third time in office.
“I was forced to quit the country due to the unrest caused by the president’s insistence on seeking a third term, which is illegal, which is unconstitutional,” he told France 24 TV from Belgium.
“I personally advised President Nkurunziza to drop his plan for a third term, but his answer was to threaten me, to humiliate me.”
The government wasn’t immediately available for revealing its reaction to the speaker’s remarks.
Opposition parties have already boycotted Monday’s election, which according to them is unconstitutional. According to opposition Nkurunziza’s bid for the 3rd term not only violates the constitution but also a peace deal that ended a civil war in 2005. Nkurunziza, on the contrary, cited a court ruling saying that he can run again. The court’s vice president who also fled the country said he and other judges were pressurized to rule in President’s favor.