With Burundi going to the polls in May, the East African Community (EAC) Secretary General, Amb. Richard Sezibera, yesterday emphasised the importance of organising free and fair elections.
Amb. Sezibera who was officiating at the launch of roundtables aimed at consolidating regional stability through peaceful elections in the Burundi said: “EAC challenges all the stakeholders to put the interests of Burundians first.”
Dr Sezibera urged all Burundians to take part in the forthcoming electoral process.
“Elections enhance democratic governance in a country and help spur political and socio-economic development,” Sezibera said.
During Thursday’s event, Amb. Sezibera said the focus of EAC and Comesa is to work closely with Burundians before, during, and after the elections and, he called on all stakeholders to fully participate in the roundtable dialogue and help send out a strong message of peace to the people of Burundi.
Burundi’s first Vice-President Prosper Bazombanza, said: “Values of dialogue and inclusion will enhance reconciliation efforts and help to build consensus among Burundians for a better tomorrow.”
Themed; Peaceful Elections in Burundi for Regional Integration, the Comesa-EAC roundtables are joint dialogue initiatives geared toward preventing election-related violence and enhancing citizen participation in the electoral process.
Bujumbura has requested the EAC and Comesa to send a long term observer mission to Burundi and the duo reportedly intend to engage with the people of Burundi through a series of activities, including Roundtables Dialogues geared toward supporting peaceful elections.
The roundtables have brought together representatives from government, political parties, civil society organisations, religious leaders, media, youth groups, women and children.
Eminent persons from around the continent will share experiences from their own jurisdictions.
They will include Dr Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, former Vice-President of Uganda and now a member of the African Union Panel of the Wise; Justice Joseph Warioba, former Prime Minister of Tanzania; Amb. Bethuel Kiplagat, former Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kenya; and Amanya Mushenga, former EAC Secretary General.