”Burundi on ‘brink of devastating violence,” warns UN

Riots in Burundi


The United Nations has warned that Burundi is “on the brink of devastating violence” ahead of the contested and controversial Presidential election.

The country’s President Pierre Nkurunziza is pushing ahead with plans to seek a third term in office at next week’s polls, despite calls for a further postponement.

Two weeks after the contested legislative and communal elections that took place in Burundi and with presidential polls just days away, senior United Nations officials now warn that the situation prevailing in the Central African country is once again at risk of sliding into violence.

The officials warned the Security Council saying that Burundi is on the brink again and that it faces grave danger.

UN Assistant-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Taye-Brook Zerihoun said said the situation  should not be underestimated, given the increasing polarization and the apparent choice of Burundian leaders to put personal interest before those of the country.

“An escalating pattern of politically motivated violence, coupled with this country’s history of recurring bloodshed and atrocities, should alert us to the potential for serious crisis,” underlined UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

Both officials echoed similar concern as they briefed the Security Council on the situation in Burundi; Mr. Zehiroun on the electoral process and the political and security situations through the work of the UN Election Observation Mission (MENUB) and Mr. Zeid on the protection and promotion of human rights.

“On 2 July, MENUB assessed that the legislative and communal electoral process of June 29 took place against the background of a political crisis, and in a climate of widespread fear and intimidation in parts of the country,” said the Assistant Secretary-General.

Some opposition political parties and civil society organizations, notably those opposed to a third term for President Pierre Nkurunziza, called the elections a “sham” and declared they would not recognize the results.

Burundi has been hit by violence since the April announcement that President Pierre Nkurunziza would run for a third term in presidential elections set for July 15.

Protesters say Nkurunziza must go because the constitution limits the president to two terms, but the president’s supporters say he is eligible for a third term because he was chosen by lawmakers — and not popularly elected — for his first term.