Following the announcements of the presidential elections on 24 July, there has been a general atmosphere of uncertainty and fear in Bujumbura and around the country. Sporadic gunshots were reported in Bujumbura during the reporting period and subsequent police operations in some sections of the town sometimes resulted in blockade of traffic, disrupting normal operations. In the southern Province of Makamba, heavy fighting was reported by media on 25 July between the Burundian army and unidentified armed group. The Burundi Red Cross Society (BRCS) confirmed there was no humanitarian impact, but unverified numbers of people displaced returned to their homes following calm in the area.
The United Nations Electoral Observation Mission in Burundi (MENUB) issued a preliminary statement on 27 July, concluding that while the Election Day was relatively peaceful and conducted adequately, the overall environment was not conducive for free and credible elections. MENUB also reiterated the UN Secretary-General’s call for the cessation of all forms of violence, respect of basic human rights and the resumption of dialogue. The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama added his voice in condemning African leaders who refuse to give up power as he made the first address to the African Union in Addis Ababa on 28 July. Obama singled out Burundi’s President Nkurunziza whose re-election to a third term provoked weeks of unrest. Meanwhile, despite having withdrawn from the elections, the main opposition leader Agathon Rwasa was elected first vice president of the national assembly on 30 July while the ruling party CNDD-FDD was confirmed president of the assembly. Mr. Rwasa earlier won a seat in parliament during the legislative elections on 29 June. Rwasa was quoted saying he would take part in the new government as a legislator to try and force change from within the system.
A parliamentary session held on 28 July adopted the suppression of point 2 of article 19 of the constitution which stipulates for ethnic and gender balance. This violates parts of the Arusha Agreement. The adoption by the House of Parliament means that there would be no need to alternate leadership between ethnic groups which could have serious implications moving forward. There have been tensions primarily between the two main tribes, Hutu and Tutsi.
In other developments, Reporters Without Borders called for the rapid and unconditional reopening of the media in Burundi and guarantees for the safe return of all journalists who fled abroad. The organization, which advocates for freedom of information, pointed out that Burundi’s five privately owned radio stations are still silent, since destruction in May during the attempted coup.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.