Burundi elections are teaching Central Africa a lesson – UN official

22 July 2005

The election process in Burundi can serve as a lesson to Central Africa for the maturity and transparency with which they are being conducted, according to a senior United Nations official who has been helping to organize the polls in an effort to restore peace and stability in a country that has been torn by decades of ethnic war.

“Burundi has shown how mature and vibrant its electoral system is, as it has enabled 3.2 million voters to make their choice very transparently and freely, with a high degree of responsibility,” the head of the electoral unit at the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB), Seck Ahmedou El Becaye, told a news briefing in Bujumbura, the capital.

“When I arrived in Burundi a year ago, things were very difficult as concerns election planning. Today, we can be genuinely satisfied with what has been achieved and I am very convinced that Burundi is teaching Central Africa a lesson. This is no exaggeration,” he added.

Mr. Seck congratulated the Burundian media “which, through remarkable harmony, masterfully played its role of democratic watchdog by helping Burundians to allay their fears and go to the polls.”

He noted the role of arbitrator played by the international community which unanimously praised the conduct of the recent legislative and communal elections and “has continually encouraged Burundi to build on and consolidate this achievement.”

Presidential elections are to be held on 19 August.

ONUB, which was set up last year, has some 5,500 military personnel in the country, which has some 6 million inhabitants, and a mandate that includes helping with electoral activities and institutional reforms.


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