Burundi: ‘Encouraging signs’ ahead of 2020 election, UN says
The United Nations has said Burundi is showing “encouraging signs” ahead of next year’s presidential election but warns the political landscape remains fragile.
The UN Security Council met to discuss the situation in Burundi on Friday, four years after the country’s ongoing political crisis first began. Progress has been slow for the tiny East African nation but the council has acknowledged recent positive steps.
Peaceful and fair elections in Burundi?
The priority for the UN Security Council is to see Burundi hold peaceful and fair elections in 2020. The country’s political crisis began in 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would be running for a third term in power – a move that sparked violence across the capital and other parts of the country.
Hundreds were killed in the violence that followed while half a million people fled the country and reports of human rights violations continue to emerge to this day.
While the situation in Burundi remains fragile, the chair of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, Jürg Lauber, told the council that he witnessed positive signs during his recent trip to the country.
Namely, he was reassured that Nkurunziza will not run in the next election, despite speculation he is seeking to extend his stay in power further.
“With regard to preparations for the peaceful conduct of the elections, the need for technical support, for instance in the areas of police training and security sector reform, was mentioned. I was informed that the [electoral commission] would invite observers from international and regional organizations to the elections,” Ambassador Lauber told the Council.
However, he also noted that “a number of interlocutors voiced concerns over difficulties encountered by members of the opposition parties to gather freely” and some “expressed concerns over recent measures against of two foreign media that allegedly violated national regulations, according to the national authority.”
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