Opposition to boycott polls

2010-07-09 13:31

Bujumbura - Burundi's opposition groups said on Friday they will boycott the July 23 parliamentary elections because their demands for free polls have not been met.

The 12-member Democratic Alliance for Change (ADC) want the release of their members they say have been arbitrarily arrested, an end to torture of political detainees by police and the secret service and freedom of movement.

"As long as these conditions are not met, we will not go back to the electoral process," Alexis Sinduhije, an ADC leader, said on the last day for registration of parliamentary election candidates.

Burundi's main opposition parties pulled out of the presidential elections last month claiming that local council elections held in May were riddled with fraud.

Their boycott of the June 28 elections left incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza as the only candidate. He won nearly 92 percent of the votes.

Sinduhije said the bloc wanted "a postponement of the legislative elections for dialogue in order to set up a commonly agreed electoral commission and the organisation of a proper electoral process".

Burundi embarked on a series of elections in May - its second post-war poll process - that were seen as crucial to cementing a fragile peace process and boosting democratic credentials.

But a series of grenade attacks and the opposition boycott have tainted the process in a country emerging from the ravages of an ethnically-driven civil war that erupted in 1993.