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Delayed Burundi Vote Monday

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza waves to supporters at the end of a political rally in Rugombo, northern Burundi, 14 May 2010

The chairman of Burundi’s Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) told VOA last-minute logistical problems that forced the postponement of local elections last week have been resolved paving the way for voting to begin Monday.

Pierre Claver Ndayicariye said Monday’s vote, which will be Burundi’s first poll in a series of elections, will be free and fair.

“We are very ready for this election. We got all the materials for this election and all the security measures have been taken by the security forces. As you are aware, all the logistic problems we got before have been solved,” he said.

Opposition groups claim the postponement is a deliberate attempt by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government to rig the vote – a charge the ruling CNDD-FDD party denies.

Chairman Ndayicariye said the electoral body continues to work closely with all participating parties to ensure a fair vote.

“We prepared all the partners, mainly the political party leaders (and) their militants. And, in Burundi, when we say freer and transparent election, we need the contribution of observers, mainly the domestic observers, we have international observers, and also we have observers sent by political parties (to monitor the vote),” Ndayicariye said.

He also said that the presence of both local and international poll observers emanates confidence among participating political parties, which he said guarantees a fair vote.

Ndayicariye said Monday’s vote will be followed by a presidential election scheduled for 28 June, parliamentary poll on 23 July and a vote for senators on 28 July, with local elections in September.

Observers see Monday’s vote as a pivotal step in Burundi’s post-war recovery efforts.

But, analysts were critical of the postponement of last week’s vote saying the move depicts deep-seated problems in the electoral commission’s inability to organize free elections.

Opposition groups have often criticized President Nkurunziza’s ruling CNDD-FDD party of intimidation and harassment ahead of Monday’s vote. But, the ruling party denies the accusations saying it is committed to ensuring a transparent vote.