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Burundi pledges at UN to step up support to ensure elections are peaceful

26 September 2009 – Burundi’s Government is committed to ensuring that highly awaited presidential, parliamentary and local polls scheduled for next year take place peacefully and successfully, and will step up support to election authorities so it can achieve that goal, the country’s Second Vice-President told the General Assembly today.

Gabriel Ntisezerana, addressing the annual high-level segment of the Assembly, said his Government was resolved “that an environment of calm should prevail” and therefore was strengthening key election structures, such as the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), which is tasked with organizing the ballots.

Mr. Ntisezerana said the Government would grant $7 million to the IEC but called on the international community to also provide financial support.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced this week that it will manage a $44 million fund to promote the peaceful staging of the polls.

If the polls are successfully staged, it will mark the first time that an electoral cycle has run its full course in Burundi, where a UN Integrated Office known as BINUB operates to try to promote peace and stability after years of ethnically-based conflict.

In 2005 more than 90 per cent of Burundians approved a new constitution and separate ballots were held for parliamentary seats and for the presidency. Next year voters will choose a president, parliamentary lawmakers and local representatives.

Mr. Ntisezerana added that his Government also hoped that electoral success would boost the impoverished Central African nation’s prospects for economic development, as well as allow the country to further redefine the mandate of BINUB.

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