The European Union is urging Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government to institute an independent electoral commission to ensure a free and fair vote in future elections. But the main opposition FRODEBU says the ruling party is not interested in ensuring a fair vote. The opposition party claims President Nkurunziza’s government has consistently refused to participate in meetings with other opposition parties aimed at constituting an independent electoral commission for future elections. The government, however, dismissed the accusation as without merit. From the capital, Bujumbura FRODEBU spokesman Pancrase Cimpaye tells reporter Peter Clottey that international pressure should be brought to bear on President Nkurunziza’s government to ensure a free vote in the country.
“The position of FRODEBU is that since last year we‘ve been asking for an independent committee for elections. Unfortunately, the CNDD-FDD (ruling party) refused to set up such a committee. Now, the problem is that the CNDD-FDD is refusing with other opposition parties so that we can talk about the timetable for the election in 2010,” Cimpaye noted.
He said the government should be pressured to have an independent electoral commission instituted ahead of any election.
“One of the problems that we have with the government is regarding the electoral commission. But if the European Union can put pressure on Nkurunziza’s government, I think we can have an independent electoral committee it would be a nice thing,” he said.
Cimpaye said pronouncements by government officials suggest the ruling party is not interested in ensuring a credible election.
“We are very sure that the electoral commission could be set up, but it won’t be an independent one. Maybe the members of the electoral commission would not be independent and it would only be members of the CNDD-FDD. The opposition parties and the European Union are all asking for an independent electoral committee, but what we are seeing today is that the president of the republic is trying to cheat. And we are sure that the members of that committee would be members of the CNDD-FDD,” Cimpaye pointed out.
He said his party expressed its dissatisfaction with the government’s lack of enthusiasm to institute an independent electoral commission to the European Union in a recent meeting.
“Today we had a meeting with the special envoy of the European Union, when he met with the our party president and we gave our point of view. We said to him that we are afraid that the government is not too interested in having a credible election. We also told the special envoy that we need the international community, especially the United Nations, to be involved in subsequent elections. Otherwise, we are going to have exactly the same situation we saw in Kenya and exactly the bad situation we are watching in Zimbabwe because they have exactly the same behavior,” he said.
Cimpaye reiterated the opposition’s suspicion of the government’s determination to hang on to power.
“When you are talking to some members of the ruling CNDD-FDD party they tell us that they didn’t go to the bush so that they will rule the country for just five years only. But that they went to the bush so that they can lead the country for more than 10 years. That means that they will do whatever they can do so that they can cheat and win elections,” Cimpaye noted.
The 2005 election that ushered President Pierre Nkunrunziza to power was organized by an electoral commission, which was then disbanded and has not been replaced.
(English to Africa 06-27-08)