Amid a flare-up in fighting and ongoing political tensions between the Government and opposition members, visit http://daisho.ca/wp-content/plugins/podpress/podpress_widgets.php the organization of legitimate elections in Burundi remains ‘one of the most pressing challenges’ facing the African country in 2015, illness the top United Nations political official has revealed.
“Burundi has made substantial progress, overcoming the formidable challenges since the end of the civil war,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, said in a briefing to the Security Council earlier on Wednesday.
“As in previous elections, the 2015 elections present Burundians with the opportunity to further strengthen peace consolidation efforts undertaken since the Arusha Accord.”
However, cautioned Mr. Feltman, the creation of a ‘peaceful and credible’ electoral process would hinge on the impartiality and independence of the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), the free exercise of civil and political rights for all Burundians, the Government’s prevention of violence without infringing on civil liberties and the immediate prosecution of all violent acts “without delay.”
The attacks on opposition activists by supporters of the ruling party and an offensive by DRC-based rebels have since raised fears that Burundi could slide back into war in case elections are rigged in favour of the incumbent.
Despite outbursts of violence in certain areas of the country which risk heightening current political tensions, Burundi’s multifaceted challenges also extend to a wider state of issues relating to health, education, employment, and infrastructure, all of which need to be “at the heart of the debate,” he told the Council.
“Addressing the remaining challenges will require the efforts of all Burundians and sustained support from Burundi’s development partners,” he concluded.
“I am pleased to note that the United Nations will continue to provide support through the Peace building Fund to enhance political dialogue and social cohesion; youth participation in political and socio-economic life; human rights; and resolution of land disputes.”
The Security Council set the creation of the UN Electoral Observation Mission (MENUB) in motion last February following the Burundi Government’s request for a UN-backed electoral observer mission before, during and after Burundi’s upcoming 2015 elections. MENUB officially began its work two weeks ago with a ceremony in Bujumbura.
It replaced the UN Office in Burundi (BNUB), which was set up in 2006 following a ceasefire between the Government and the last remaining rebel forces to support peace consolidation, democratic governance, disarmament and reform of the security sector. BNUB wrapped up its mandate at the end of last year.
Meanwhile, in his remarks to the Council, Ambassador Paul Seger of Switzerland, Chair of the Burundi configuration of the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), said he had been ‘heartened’ by the discussions he had with national stakeholders during his most recent trip to Burundi from 9 to 12 December.
Nonetheless, he added, issues related to the country’s current security and political situation, the UN’s presence on the ground, and the future of the PBC, continued to warrant the UN body’s attention.
In particular, Mr. Seger told the Council he remained concerned about the spate of recent violence which had rippled across the Burundian provinces of Cibitoke and Ruyigi, fomenting mistrust between the Government and opposition and resulting in a ‘significant number of victims,’ which he deplored.
President Pierre Nkurunziza has repeatedly been warned by the international community against manipulating the Constitution to serve a third term in office after the expiry for his mandatory reign.
But the ruling government seems determined to use all means to entrench Nkurunziza’s hold on power.
Across the border in Congo thousands of protesters remain on the streets, challenging Kabila’s move to serve another term in office.
According to reports, on 30 December, the Burundian army reported clashing with an unidentified armed group of approximately 100 to 200 members entering Cibitoke from neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Following fighting between the two sides, some 100 members of the armed group were killed.
Meanwhile, in a separate incident in Ruyigi, five unidentified gunmen dressed in military fatigues executed three members of the ruling party in a bar 250 kilometres east of Bujumbura, the country’s capital.
“I strongly recommend the competent national authorities to pursue investigations into the events in a quick and impartial manner,” he stated, warning that “as long as facts are not established, rumours will spread and further fuel an already tense political environment in the run up to the elections.”
As a result, he called on all Burundian stakeholders to continue along the “path of dialogue.”
“This cannot be stressed enough,” he continued. “Only a truly inclusive political dialogue and open political space that ensures the protection of all public liberties and rights for all can lay a fertile ground for genuinely free, fair, peaceful and credible elections.”
At least 40 people were killed on Wednesday in the latest spate of mass riots against the government of President Joseph Kabila, cheap http://cinsellikteperformans.com/media/widgetkit/widgets/accordion/accordion.php Chimp Corps report.
11 more others were killed Monday, mind http://compuaprende.com/components/com_community/templates/jomsocial/layouts/email.groups.memberjoin.html.php medical sources say, as the political turbulence spread across the country.
The unprecedented bloodshed has since sparked off condemnation from Human Rights groups and western countries.
The United States expressed “deep concern” after a second day of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, following the National Assembly’s passage of electoral legislation and as the Senate began consideration of similar legislation. ?
The legislation seeks a national census across the vast and mineral rich country before the next presidential elections are held.
But protesters claim the move is intended to prolong Kabila’s stay in power for three more years after the expiry of his term of office in 2016.
Experts say due to the rugged terrain of the country coupled with poor transport infrastructure, government needs about three years to conduct a successful national census exercise.
The Senate will today make a historic decision on whether the National Assembly’s earlier decision of holding a national census is tenable.
Kabila is also thought to be harbouring plans of amending the Constitution to allow him serve a third term in office.
This website understands that resistance against Kabila’s government entered a decisive stage on Wednesday, with the Catholic Church throwing its weight behind the protesters.
Cardinal Laurent Mosengwo Pasinya said in a statement that the Catholic Church “disapproves of and condemns any revision of the electoral law.”
He described as “illegal” plans to push the election further, warning security forces against “killing your people” and “walking over their dead bodies.”
The Catholic Church is a powerful bloc in DRC. Cardinal Pasinya has previously condemned political violence in the country.
He also was critical of Kabila’s government when it benefitted from rigged the elections in 2011, saying the exercise was “not free and fair.”
Diplomatic sources told this website that the Church’s public pronouncement will boost the morale of protesters to resist the proposed electoral reforms.
They further revealed that several opposition leaders had been detained in connection with the violence. It is understood that following international condemnation of police brutality, government yesterday deployed the Republican Guard forces to quell the violence thus opening live fire into crowds.
Mass riots were also reported at Kinshasa University where police used teargas and live ammunition to disperse students.
“The United States is troubled by reports of widespread violent demonstrations, looting, unlawful arrests, and violence against protesters,” said the State Department.
“We call upon all Congolese security forces, as well as civil society and opposition members, to exercise restraint and refrain from acts of violence.?”
U.S., which recently warned Kabila against manipulation of the Constitution, further stressed the “importance of protecting political space and ensuring that all citizens have the right to peacefully assemble and exercise their rights to free speech.”
It added: “The right to free speech is a cornerstone of democracy and critical to a credible and transparent electoral process. In this regard, the United States is also alarmed by reports that internet sites, text messaging services, and radio stations have been shut down. The United States reiterates its support for peaceful, credible, and timely elections in the DRC in accordance with the Constitution.?”