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AU observers to oversee poll in Burundi

The African Union (AU) has announced that it will soon dispatch a 50-member observer mission to Burundi to assess the presidential elections scheduled for 15 July in that country. Parliamentary vote will be held on June 19.
The elections will be closely monitored and will come under intense scrutiny following weeks of unrest sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza announcement that he intends to seek a third term as president despite the constitution preventing him from doing so.

Pierre Nkurunziza

Speaking to the media on the last day of the African Union Summit held in Johannesburg on Monday, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ismail Gergui said the mandate of the observer team in Burundi would include ensuring that there is conducive environment for the election to take place and promote peace and dialogue among political parties.

"We have received a positive response from the government to observe and promote peace and dialogue. Conditions for conducive elections in Burundi will include respect for human rights, free movement of people and the media, among others," Gergui said.

The African Union has said it is against Nkurinzinza's attempt for a third term and has piled pressure on him to reconsider his position. The central African nation has been in crisis over the controversial bid by Nkurinzinza to stand for a third. Many have said the move may plunge the country into a deadly conflict reminiscent of the 13 years of civil war which South African played a crucial role to end. Nkurinzinza's absence at the summit in Johannesburg has further fuelled speculation that he is not interested to listen to the AU and will go ahead with his mission.

Meanwhile, Gerhui said the AU was intensifying its peace and security operations to ensure stability throughout the continent. Currently, about 22,000 troops are stationed in Somalia to fight extremists groups in that country while there are also active missions in Darfur working the United Nations forces. The union has also been maintaining peace in Mali and Central African Republic.

A joint military force to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria has been established with the Nigerian government pledging $100m towards the force's operations. The EU and the US have also extended their support to the force. The regional force would be in place until the mooted African Standby Force (ASF) is in full operation by the end of this year.

The AU says simulation exercises for the ASF will be held in South Africa mid October.

SOURCE is a South African government news service, published by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS). (formerly BuaNews) was established to provide quick and easy access to articles and feature stories aimed at keeping the public informed about the implementation of government mandates.
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