Burundi's ruling party has a big lead in local elections according to preliminary results announced on Tuesday. On voting day, everything was peaceful, the Head of the UN Integrated Office in Burundi, Charles Petrie, told our colleague Gerry Adams.
Duration: 2'21" "They are going very well. There has been a very high turnout. These elections are the first in a series of five and possibly six elections. There is a second round for the presidential that will be conducted over a four months period. It's a very complex and intense cycle and it's managed by Burundi. It's a confirmation of Burundi's emergence from its painful and violent past, and they have gone extremely well. I mean as far as turnout, in terms of logistics and the actual management of the elections, of course, there have been problems here and there but they have all been responded to very quickly. So it's been a very successful elections so far.
Charles Petrie, Executive Representative of the Secretary General in Burundi and head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB).
PETRIE: They are the first in a series of five and possibly six elections. There is a second round for the presidential that will be conducted over a four months period. It's a very complex and intense cycle and it's managed by Burundi and they have gone extremely well far as turnout. In terms of logistics and the actual management of the elections, of course, there have been problems here and there but they have all been responded to very quickly. So it's been a very successful election so far.
ADAMS: Why so many elections? Why five or six?
PETRIE: It was an agreement reached between the different political parties, signatories to Arusha. I think it's just, they had initial elections in 2005 and then within the Arusha it was agreed to have further consultations five years later, 2010. And they have all been regrouped together. It's not ideal, but that's the agreement they reached in terms of political transition.
ADAMS: You say they, who are the parties who reached this agreement?
PETRIE: There are about 12 political parties, far less based on ethnic divisions, far more political. The main competing parties come out of the bush, are former rebel movements. So it's a grouping of those who were fighting each other about five to ten years ago.
ADAMS: You mentioned that the elections are Burundi-driven. How is the UN providing any assistance?
PETRIE: We are supporting when asked to support. We are definitely playing a background discrete role. In 2005 the UN was far more engaged in the management to the elections. You could argue 2005 was the beginning of the process of normalization or peace consolidation. 2010 is not the beginning is the confirmation of Burundi's ability and willingness to emerge from a very painful past and the UN is doing everything it can to protect the Burundian nature of this consultation. So we are being discreet and supportive.
ADAMS: And in case there is violence, are there any plans to quell it?
PETRIE: On the UN side you could say that we have got sort of a double role. On the one hand we are available to support and we do everything we can, but other hand we have a fairly extensive presence throughout the country and so we are acting as an early warning. We have set up networks and we have very close links with the security structures of the country and actually we have been actively involved in raising with the police and other security organs cases of intimidation that we have identified on the ground and for the most part they have been resolved. So the answer is, we do have a form of an early warning system. We are monitoring the situation very closely.
PRESENTER: That was Charles Petrie the head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi.