African Union will not observe elections in Burundi

AU reiterates need for dialogue and consensus for lasting political solution a day ahead of poll in crisis-hit country.

Dozens have been killed in months of unrest, including an opposition leader, and the UN refugee agency UNHCR says 127,000 have fled Burundi [AP]

The African Union (AU) will not observe Burundi’s legislative elections scheduled for Monday, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chairperson of the commission of the AU, has said.

In a communique released on Sunday, Dlamini-Zuma said the “AU reiterates the imperative need for dialogue and consensus for a lasting solution to the crisis in Burundi”.

“[The AU] will not observe the elections scheduled for 29 June 2015,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

Echoing the AU’s remarks, the UN said on Sunday that Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was concerned about “the Government of Burundi’s insistence on going ahead with elections on 29 June despite the prevailing political and security environment.”

Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from the capital Bujumbura, said some supporters of President Pierre Nkurunziza are wondering why Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir was seemingly protected in South africa at the AU summit in Johannesburg just over a week back, while their president seems to have been abandoned by the AU.

Burundi has been in turmoil since April, when Nkurunziza said he would seek a third term, triggering weeks of protests, and an abortive military coup last month.

Dlamini-Zuma said the AU was disappointed that proposals put forward to postpone elections were not accepted. 

“Noting that the necessary conditions are not met for the organization of free, fair and transparent and credible elections .. the AU commission will not observe the local and parliamentary elections,” the statement read.

Nkurunziza’s opponents say his decision to stand again violates the constitution as well as a peace deal that ended a civil war in 2005

The latest developments come as clashes continued on the streets of the capital Bujumbura, as the country inched towards the controversial poll. 

On Sunday, the country’s parliamentary speaker Pie Ntavyohanyuma said he had fled Burundi in fear of his life after opposing Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term 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,” Ntavyohanyuma told France 24 television 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.”

At least three people were killed overnight in Bujumbura, residents said, a day before parliamentary and elections taking place amid an opposition boycott and fears of violence.

Nkurunziza has cited a constitutional court ruling saying he can run again, although the court’s vice president, another of those who have fled, said he and others had been pressured to rule in favour of Nkurunziza.

Dozens, including an opposition leader, have been killed in months of unrest, and the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, says 127,000 have fled the country.

The opposition is boycotting both Monday’s vote and the presidential election on July 15.  

 Nkurunziza's bid for a third term has plunged the country into a political crisis [AP]
 Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term has plunged the country into a political crisis [AP]
Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies