Press Statement – Marie Harf Acting Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson – Washington, DC – April 25, 2015
The United States deeply regrets the decision by Burundi’s ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), to disregard the term-limit provisions of the Arusha Agreement by naming President Pierre Nkurunziza as its candidate for a third presidential term. With this decision, Burundi is losing an historic opportunity to strengthen its democracy by establishing a tradition of peaceful democratic transition.
The United States continues to support the Burundian people’s peaceful pursuit of their democratic rights and freedoms. We regret this significant missed opportunity, but the hard work of building democratic practices and institutions must continue. In that spirit, we urge all parties to participate in the legislative and national elections and ensure these electoral processes are inclusive, transparent, credible, free and conducted in an environment without threats, intimidation, or violence.
We specifically call on the Burundian government to respect the rights of all peaceful political parties and their candidates to campaign, hold meetings and rallies, and express their views. We also call on the Burundian government to respect the right of the media to report freely on the electoral process and campaigns. We further urge the government to cooperate fully with the UN Electoral Observer Mission (MENUB) and all international and domestic electoral observers throughout the entire electoral process, as well as on the election days.
The United States calls on all parties in Burundi to abide by the non-violence charter signed March 9 and refrain from any violent acts, including hate speech or other provocations, that could feed the climate of fear and instability. We renew our calls on all candidates, their supporters, and Burundian citizens to reject all forms of violence, and on the national police, the Burundian military, and all security force personnel to provide security in an impartial manner throughout the electoral processes.
We commend the neighboring countries for their efforts to receive the almost 15,000 Burundians who have fled the country over the past month, and encourage their continued close coordination with UNHCR and support to provide asylum to those fleeing political violence and persecution. We urge all regional actors to refrain from any acts that could contribute to the climate of instability in Burundi.
The United States will continue to monitor the situation in Burundi closely and take targeted measures, including, where appropriate, by denying U.S. visas, to hold accountable those individuals who participate in, plan, or order violence against the civilian population. Violence has no place in democratic elections, and perpetrators of such violence will not be welcome to travel to the United States and risk being held accountable in a court of law for any crimes for which they are responsible