OCHA Eastern Africa/Flash Update 8 - Elections Crisis in Burundi and Regional Impacts, 25 May 2015
The political and security situation in Bujumbura, capital of Burundi is increasingly tense. On Friday 22 May, a grenade attack by unidentified assailants in the city’s central market area left three dead and many others injured, bringing the death toll to at least 20 deaths and 420 wounded since protests began in early April against a third-term bid by President Pierre Nkurunziza. On Saturday 23 May, political opposition leader Zedi Feruzi of the Union pour la paix et le développement (UPD) and his bodyguard were assassinated by unknown assailants. In response, civil society leaders of the campaign against a third term for Nkurunziza called for increased protests and announced that they would be withdrawing from talks aimed at resolving the current political crisis.
Throughout the country the situation is reported to be calm but tense. Burundian private radio stations have remained silent, having been banned by authorities and subsequently attacked. Only government-run Radio-Télévision nationale du Burundi (RTNB) continues to broadcast. International broadcasters such as the BBC, RFI and VOA have tried to fill the void by increasing their reach across the country.
Last Wednesday 20 May, President Nkurunziza signed a decree postponing parliamentary and local council elections by 10 days to 5 June, following a recommendation to this effect by the national electoral commission. There has been no indication as to whether the presidential election, scheduled for 26 June, would also be postponed. Earlier, on Monday, President Nkurunziza replaced three cabinet ministers (defense, external relations, and trade). On Tuesday 19 May, South African President Jacob Zuma, returning from a Summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, stated that the Summit had endorsed a postponement of elections while unrest persisted, and that a return to stability would allow elections to be free and fair. He also noted that a delegation of Heads of State from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa would visit Burundi “in the shortest possible time to evaluate the situation and contribute to the peaceful resolution of the current situation.”