UNDP to support Burundi elections
Bujumbura, 23 September - UNDP is to manage a USD44 million basket fund to support Burundi’s 2010 election process, sealing the country’s transition to peace.
Next year will mark the first time that an electoral cycle will have run its full course in Burundi. In 2005, following years of civil conflict, a new constitution was approved with over 90% of the popular vote and separate ballots were held throughout the country for the parliament and presidency.
In the 2010 elections, Burundians will vote for local representatives, members of parliament and the president.
The project will help to manage the programme of technical assistance for the election. It will assist the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) in organizing the polls. It will also promote civic education, human rights, media coverage and women’s participation in the election while ensuring that the votes are held peacefully and securely.
The project document was signed on 18 September by Augustin Nsanze, the Foreign Minister of Burundi and Gustavo Gonzalez, the UNDP Country Director. During the ceremony, Nsanze emphasized the importance of electoral transparency. Meanwhile, Gonzalez pointed out that Burundi’s national institutions have stronger capacities than in 2005. However, he stressed that the project would require strong co-ordination from all development partners, including NGOs.
Several donors, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden, China, South Africa, Canada, Denmark and Japan are expected to provide USD26 million for the project. UNDP, Norway, Belgium, the European Commission and Switzerland have already provided USD18 million.
The Government of Burundi has already earmarked USD 6 million for the project and requested that the African Union (AU) deploy observers to follow the electoral process up to its conclusion.
Since 2004, important progress has been made in consolidating peace in Burundi, with the demobilisation of more than 60,000 ex-combatants, the return of over 400,000 refugees, and recently, the establishment of CENI. The project is expected to further these advances.