Elections in Burundi that were racked by violence and boycotted by the opposition were not free or credible, United Nations observers said on Thursday, after clashes left six dead in the capital. Parliamentary and local elections were held on Monday despite an appeal by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, for a postponement after months of turmoil. The UN electoral observer mission said in a report that the elections took place “in a tense political crisis and a climate of widespread fear and intimidation in parts of the country”. “Episodes of violence and explosions preceded and in some cases accompanied election day activities, mostly in Bujumbura,” said the nine-page report. The mission concluded “that the environment was not conducive for free, credible and inclusive elections”.
The results of the parliamentary polls were yet to be released but Belgium said it would not recognise the outcome and the United States ratcheted up international pressure, calling for presidential elections on 15 July to be delayed.
Clashes in the capital Bujumbura on Wednesday left six dead in the opposition stronghold of Citiboke district, which has seen weeks of protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s rule. Police said a grenade was thrown at one of their patrols, injuring two officers and triggering gun battles in which one police officer died.
Five others, described as members of an armed group, were killed, but witnesses said they had been murdered by police. An AFP reporter at the scene saw the six bodies, three of whom had bullet wounds to the head.