Burundi’s main opposition leader Agathon Rwasa took his seat as parliament met for the first time Monday since legislative elections last month, saying he would “play the game” despite criticising the polls as not credible.
Rwasa, who has denounced the third consecutive win by President Pierre Nkurunziza, garnered almost 19 percent of the presidential vote last Tuesday despite saying he was unable to properly campaign.
But Rwasa said he was right to take up his seat as a member of parliament after the June legislative vote.
“Should we abandon to their fate all those people who voted for us?” Rwasa said.
Rwasa has said he would not oppose the formation of a unity government if its main aim is to prepare new elections.
On Monday, 104 of a total 212 lawmakers turned up to parliament.
“As long as the negotiations have not been completed, play the game,” Rwasa said.
“I think everything will be determined by the outcome of the dialogue being conducted between the parties.”
UN Observers dismiss Burundi polls as not credible
Meanwhile, a United Nations observer mission said Monday that last week’s presidential elections in Burundi were relatively peaceful but had not been “an inclusive free and credible” vote.
Separately, the 15 UN Security Council members plan to hold consultations on the crisis Tuesday.
In a preliminary report, UN observers said Thursday’s vote, which saw President Pierre Nkurunziza re-elected, was marred by violence and obstacles to freedom of expression and the press.
“While election day was relatively peaceful and conducted adequately, the overall environment was not conducive for an inclusive free and credible electoral process,” the report said.
It said the elections were held “in an environment of profound mistrust between opposing political camps.”
“Freedom of expression, assembly and association, essential conditions for the effective exercise of the right to vote, remained severely impaired,” the report said.
It faulted the state-run media for failing to provide balanced coverage to all presidential candidates.
“Nevertheless, on election day Burundians in most places went peacefully to the polls to cast their ballots,” the report said.
It echoed a separate report the UN mission had already issued in June after legislative and local elections in Burundi.
The mission’s latest findings were in line with those of other international observers.
Results made public Thursday by Burundi’s electoral commission had Nkurunziza winning a third term as president with 69.41 percent.
His decision to run for re-election in late April plunged the country into a profound political crisis accompanied by violence that left more than 80 people dead.