OCHA Eastern Africa/Flash Update 7 - Elections Crisis in Burundi and Regional Impacts, 18 May 2015
Following a pause over the weekend, protests resumed today in some areas (Nyakabiga, Musaga, Ngagara, Mutakura, Cibitoke) of the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, despite a communiqué from Burundi’s foreign ministry warning that “protestors will be treated as accomplices” of those who staged last week’s attempted coup d’état. The communiqué also warned that the ban on protests would be valid through the electoral period (currently foreseen to continue through August), and noted that the Government would consider calls to slightly postpone communal and legislative elections planned for 26 May, while making no mention of the presidential election planned for 26 June.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, on Friday said there was a real risk of Burundi descending into further chaos, and called upon authorities to ensure that the instigators of the failed coup were not harmed and that there were no reprisals against their perceived supporters, journalists, human rights defenders and the many ordinary civilians who have been protesting against a third-term bid for President Nkurunziza. He also called for a re-opening of all media outlets, the respect for the independence of journalists, and the urgent need to ensure the safety of human rights defenders, some of whom had gone into hiding, fearing for their lives. “Those who incite or engage in acts of mass violence should be aware that they are liable to be prosecuted by competent judicial bodies, as reflected in the recent statement by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court,” the High Commissioner warned. Zeid also voiced concerns that the intimidation of civilians, including by the armed militia (“Imbonerakure”) attached to the youth movement, could result in an even greater humanitarian crisis.
Lockdown measures for UN personnel were lifted on Saturday with recommendations to staff to exercise caution. As a precautionary measure, non-program-critical UN staff and dependents were evacuated this weekend.
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