Over at the Pulitzer Center, Jina Moore offers a deeply insightful read on Burundi’s recent presidential election, in three acts. On the relationship between the powers that be and, well, everybody else:
The opposition decided to boycott the election – but not the campaign season. It traveled the country, or tried to, telling supporters to boycott the poll. It made some trips successfully; at other points, it was turned back. On June 8, the Minister of the Interior said it was illegal for individuals to hold political meetings unless they were running for president. Rights groups said that curtailed the opposition’s constitutionally guaranteed freedom of assembly. The opposition said it proved the CNDD-FDD was interfering with the elections process and unduly influencing CENI, which is supposed to be an independent electoral body.
A good deal of anger about all of this is being directed at the international community. The EU mission has twice been targeted by Bujumbura’s grenade throwers, as mysterious as they are ubiquitous, and people occasionally lob rocks at UN cars.
That’s because the EU mission endorsed the results, and other international actors followed. Regardless of what you believe about what ‘really’ happened, the EU endorsement gave the ruling party political cover. Renate Weber, the chief of the observation team, insists that her mission is merely technical; the political implications of her findings, she says, are problems for politicians in Brussels.
Fundamentally, the European Union’s endorsement of President Nkurunziza’s re-election attempts to legitimize a fundamentally illegitimate political process. And really, that just pisses everybody in Burundi off. Moreover, it undermines the donor’s ability to provide long-term aid effectively. Sure folks are accustomed to donor hypocrisies, but the millions of dollars put towards local-level democratic governance projects must seem ridiculous in the eyes of Burundians right now.
For more on the elections, Jina’s article hits all the right points and is a must read.