Elections in Burundi Will Lack Credibility

Press Statement John Kirby, Department Spokesperson

The United States warns that elections held under the current conditions in Burundi will not be credible and will further discredit the government.

The legitimacy of the electoral process in Burundi over the past few months has been tainted by the government’s harassment of opposition and civil society members, closing down of media outlets and political space, and intimidation of voters. Dozens have been killed, and as many as 167,000 Burundians are now refugees in neighboring nations.

The government’s insistence on going forward with Presidential elections on Tuesday risks its legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens and of the international community. More serious is the risk of unraveling the fragile progress made through the implementation of the Arusha Agreement, which states clearly that no Burundi president shall serve more than two terms in office.

We commend the East African Community and the Government of Uganda for their efforts to encourage political dialogue, and are disappointed that the Government of Burundi has thus far failed to participate in good faith in this dialogue. We are deeply concerned that Foreign Minister Nyamitwe also failed to approve entry for African Union human rights monitors in advance of the election, preventing the multitude of allegations of human rights violations and abuses from being properly investigated.

We underscore our commitment to helping seek accountability for those who commit or instigate politically-motivated violence and other human rights abuses in Burundi.

Attempts by the Government of Burundi to deny citizens the ability to choose their leadership freely, without intimidation and threat of violence, will force the United States to carefully review all aspects of our partnership not yet suspended, including the imposition of visa restrictions on those responsible for — or complicit in — promoting instability in Burundi through violence.We strongly urge all parties to recommit themselves to upholding the Arusha Agreement and its power-sharing arrangement, the cornerstone of peace and security over the past decade in Burundi.