A European Union election observation mission (EOM) will be sent to Burundi to observe the electoral cycle in the country, which starts 21 May 2010. The mission, which travels on the invitation of the government of the Republic of Burundi, will be headed by chief observer Renate Weber MEP and will be made up of a team of 82 observers.
"The upcoming election cycle will be of particular importance for Burundi since it represents an opportunity to confirm institutional stability and democratic progress in the country,” said Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-president of the European Commission.
“In recognition of this, and complementing our other cooperation programmes with Burundi, I have decided to deploy an EU EOM to follow the elections. I am grateful that Mrs Renate Weber, who has experience with other international observation missions, has accepted my invitation to lead this mission."
The mission will cover local elections (May 21), the presidential elections (June 28), the legislative elections (July 23), the senatorial elections (July 28) and the administrative elections (elections for the heads of the country's smallest administrative units, known as collines, on September 7). The mission plans to follow the election campaign and the preparations of the elections for all 17 provinces of the country, as well as the various polls and post-election periods. It will also aim to complete other EU actions aimed at supporting democracy and human rights in Burundi.
European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR)
Election observation is a vital part of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), which aims to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law worldwide. Since 1993, the EU has conducted more than 110 observation missions. The EIDHR is an EU programme that promotes and supports human rights and democracy worldwide mainly through civil society projects.
It also supports regional and international organisations in this field, such as the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Promoting good governance
The Africa-EU Partnership on Democratic Governance and Human Rights, which was launched during the 2nd Africa-EU Summit in Portugal in 2007, also builds on the concept that democracy and the respect for human rights are critical issues to the development of any society. The Partnership is a forum for dialogue between the continents to discuss democratic governance and human rights, and is also a means for implementing programmes and actions to improve electoral observation.
The partnership has also provided financial backing to the African Union (AU)'s Electoral Assistance Fund, and enabled AU observers to participate in the most recent EU Parliamentary elections. A European Commission- funded workshop is scheduled with the aim of developing a common approach on the Platform on democratic governance and human rights with key stakeholders, including experts from African capitals and 30 civil society representatives from Africa and Europe.