On 20 May 2020, Burundians will head to the polls to elect a new president, but the United Nations (UN) and the Africa Union (AU) are concerned about reports of intimidation and violent clashes between supporters of opposing sides.
Incumbent Pierre Nkurunziza has promised to step aside after 15 years in office.
The ruling party has selected an army general, Evariste Ndayishimiye, as its candidate.
Nkurunziza’s election in 2015 was cosnidered controversial as it triggered a failed military coup and a crackdown on opposition.
Nkurunziza, a former leader of the Hutu, was elected as the president at the end of the 1993-2005 civil war between Hutu and Tutsi forces. He served a second term in 2010.
“The two Organizations encourage all entities involved in organizing the 20 May 2020 elections, the defense and security forces and state-owned media to fully contribute to preserving a stable and peaceful environment, pre-requisite for free, inclusive, fair, transparent and credible elections in Burundi,” the statement said.
“They urge all political actors to refrain from all acts of violence and hate speech, and resort to dialogue, to enable the holding of consensual and peaceful elections. They also encourage the Burundian authorities to ensure and facilitate the full participation of women during this electoral process.”
Iy has been about 15 years since the country emerged from a 12-year civil war between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups.
Most analysts expect Nkurunziza to peacefully relinquish office after the 2020 election.
Authorities in the East African country were also urged to implement preventive measures to protect citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, a UN Commission of Inquiry also expressed alarm over violence and human rights abuses in the run-up to the vote.
Members also deeply regretted the government’s decision to expel four staff members of the World Health Organization (WHO) from the country.