Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission has appointed senior Scottish MEP David Martin to head the EU’s Election Observation Mission (EOM) in Burundi.
Following the invitation of the Government of Burundi, the European Union will be deploying an Election Observation Mission in the country for the elections of Deputies and Municipal Councils of 26 May and the presidential of June 26th. This is the third observation mission of the European Union which since the end of the civil war has accompanied the democratic consolidation process in the country.
On the appointment of David Martin MEP as Chief Observer, Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice -President of the European Commission said:
“With his experience in the area of election observation, human rights and international relations, David Martin is well placed to guide the European observers in a difficult context of specific concern to me.
“The situation in Burundi is critical. I hope that the conditions for transparent, inclusive and credible elections can, through dialogue, be swiftly restored. The Election Observation Mission of the EU will be there to help build confidence in the process if these conditions are met."
Commenting on the appointment Mr Martin said:
“These elections present major challenges for the country and the Great Lakes region. The EU Electoral Observation Mission in Burundi will work alongside other regional and international observers, including the United Nations (MENUB ) and the African Union to support the transparency and credibility of the electoral process.
“Firstly however it is essential that the violence and intimidation cease as well as the restrictions on human rights defenders and the media that we have witnessed in recent days. We are hopeful that the resumption of political dialogue, as soon as possible, will allow credible, inclusive and non-violent elections to proceed."
A core team of seven electoral experts has been based in Bujumbura since April 24. If conditions are satisfactory, the EOM will, over the course of next week, deploy the first group of 20 long-term observers who, after training in Bujumbura, will join their area of responsibility in the country. In total, for the incoming polls, the EU EOM will have more than 80 observers throughout Burundi from EU member states as well as Norway, Switzerland and Canada.
The election observation missions of the European Union adhere to the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation adopted at the United Nations in 2005 and the Code of Conduct for International Election Observers. This mission is independent from EU institutions and from EU Member States and is required to remain neutral and respect the laws of Burundi.