Bujumbura, Burundi - "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." These were the opening remarks of Mr. Seck Ahmedou El Becaye, Head of the Electoral Unit at the United Nations Operation in Burundi, during the weekly press conference this Thursday, 21 July 2005.
Mr. Seck also congratulated the Burundian media for the role it played in the process. "In these circumstances, I wish to congratulate 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 said.
While recalling the various phases of the on-going electoral process, Mr. Seck first alluded to the commune elections of 3 June 2005 for council administrators. "Burundi is improving on and creating conditions for people-management through local administrators chosen by the people, "Mr. Seck said, before adding that "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."
Next, with regard to the smooth organisation of the legislative elections of 4 July 2005, Mr. Seck took as witness the international community in its capacity as arbitrator. He then congratulated the Independent National Electoral Commission for standing tall during the electoral process and playing its part independently. "The international community has unanimously praised the conduct of the recent elections and has continually encouraged Burundi to build on and consolidate this achievement," Mr. Seck told the people of Burundi. Then he added, "Obviously, I must congratulate the Independent National Electoral Commission which was very daring and which, in spite of some pressure exerted on it, remained independent and believed in itself."
Alluding to the upcoming presidential election of 19 August which may resemble a one-man race for lack of candidates, Mr. Seck commented as follows: "You are aware that the deadline for receiving candidacies was 19 July and according to information reaching us, only one candidate has filed for the position."
As concerns colline elections which will close the electoral process in September, the Head of the Electoral Unit was unambiguous. "The United Nations Operation in Burundi would like the election time-table outlined in Entebbe with dates and specific timelines for the forthcoming colline elections to be respected. It would also like Burundians to henceforth engage in efforts necessary for the development of their country," he concluded.