Burundi Catholic Bishops concerned over irregularities reported on Election Day

In a statement issued a day after the release of provisional election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission on May 25, Burundi Catholic Bishops have identified irregularities that characterized the previously held elections.

Burundi Catholic Bishops

The Burundi Catholic Bishops say the triple ballot of May 20 was marred by enormous irregularities.

“We deplore a lot of irregularities with regard to freedom and the transparency of the electoral process as well as fairness in the treatment of candidates and voters,” says Bishop Joachim Ntahondereye, Chairman of the Conference of Burundi Catholic Bishops.
He adds that party observers were forced to sign in advance the reports of the ballot boxes and deplores the stuffing of some ballot boxes, the vote in place of the deceased and refugees as well as multiple and invalid proxies.

Burundi Catholic Bishops also say that there were voters in some polling stations who voted more than once.

“We also condemn the exclusion of some party observers from the voting places, intimidation and constraints exerted on voters by some administrative officials who accompanied them to the voting booths,” he says.

Bishop Ntahondereye also says the triple ballot was also characterized by the intrusion of unauthorized persons into places where the votes were counted and the confiscation of the credentials and telephones of some observers. “The secrecy of the ballot was not guaranteed everywhere,” the Conference of Burundi Catholic Bishops says.

The Catholic Bishops call for calm and recommend all those who feel that their rights have been violated to privilege authorized ways to be restored to their rights.
“We condemn all injustices as much as we refuse any recourse to the path of violence,” says the chairman of the Conference.

Burundi Catholic Bishops say they had deployed 2716 observers throughout the country “although their number turned out to be less than the number of polling stations”.
“We can confirm that we were able to visit all communes in some targeted offices’, says Ntahondereye.

On May 20, Burundians went to the polls to vote for the president, MPs and members of the communal council.

According to the provisional results released by the National Electoral Commission-CENI on May 25, Evariste Ndayishimiye, ruling party candidate won the presidential elections with 68,72% .
Agathon Rwasa, the leader of the opposition party CNL who came second with 24,19% in the presidential election earlier said he would not accept the results of the polls and planned to file a complaint to the Constitutional Court.