MENUB Preliminary Statement of 29 June 2015 Legislative and Communal Elections
The United Nations Electoral Observation Mission (MENUB), pursuant to Security Council Resolution 2137 of 2014 to observe the Burundian electoral process before, during and after the elections, began its observation activities on 1 January 2015. Based on its findings to date, MENUB presents the following preliminary conclusions:
The legislative and communal electoral process took place in a tense political crisis, and a climate of widespread fear and intimidation in parts of the country. Fundamental freedoms of participation, assembly, expression, opinion and information have suffered increasing restrictions during the campaign period and as Election Day drew nearer.
The Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante (CENI) conducted adequate voter registration and candidate nomination processes. However, the opposition parties repeatedly accused CENI of lack of credibility and independence. On 1 June, two commissioners resigned from the CENI claiming that conditions were not in place for credible elections and alleging external pressure.
The CENI preparations and arrangements for Election Day were largely sufficient, and polling activities took place regularly in the observed polling places. Nationwide, many Burundians went to the polls to cast their ballots for candidates of their choice.
Episodes of violence and explosions preceded, and in some cases accompanied Election Day activities, mostly in Bujumbura.
From its deployment to date, MENUB observed media freedom restrictions, violations of human rights and other fundamental freedoms. MENUB concerns include those related to private media reinstatement, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including ensuring the right of the political opposition to campaign freely, respect for the rule of law and release of arbitrary detainees, and the disarmament of armed youth groups aligned with political parties.
MENUB regrets that the parties did not reach agreement, through dialogue, to improve these conditions in the pre-electoral period. Regrettably, opposition parties decided to boycott the polls.
In view of the above findings, MENUB concludes that the environment was not conducive for free, credible and inclusive elections. MENUB notes similar concerns expressed by the African Union, the Eastern African Community, and the International Conference on Great Lakes Region.
Pursuant to the United Nations Security Council Resolution that established it, MENUB will continue to observe the remaining stages of the legislative and communal elections, as well as all the other elections planned for 2015. It calls for immediate cessation of all violence, including that perpetrated for political objectives, and for the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Burundians to be respected.
- MENUB observers were present in all 18 provinces, covering 50 municipalities out of 119. Overall, MENUB carried out observation in 145 polling sites.
- MENUB was inaugurated on 1 January 2015 following the Security Council Resolution 2137 (2014) in which the Security Council took note of the request of the Government of Burundi and mandated MENUB to report before, during and after the 2015 elections. Since January 2015, MENUB officials have met with government officials, political party leaders, religious groups and leaders, media and civil society representatives to collect information on all aspects of the electoral process. MENUB follows the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation endorsed at the United Nations in October 2005. Pursuant to its Security Council mandate, MENUB will continue to observe post election developments and results aggregation for legislative and communal elections, as well as all other elections scheduled for 2015.
- MENUB performs on neutral and impartial basis. Its observation is conducted by professionals and based on national laws, international instruments and on the rules and principles applicable to election observation. MENUB observer teams are deployed throughout Burundi since January 2015.
- An electronic version of this Preliminary Statement is available http://menub.unmissions.org.