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24 June - The Security Council has urged Burundi's political parties to participate fully in the country's legislative elections next month, and work to ensure the proper conduct of the presidential poll scheduled for Monday, amid reports that the opposition is boycotting the presidential contest.

In a press statement issued late yesterday, the Council also commended Burundi for the progress it has made in its peace process and for consolidating democratic debate in the country.

“The members of the Council call upon all the political stakeholders of Burundi to participate fully in the electoral process, in particular the legislative and senatorial elections scheduled for 23 and 28 July 2010, to respect the result of the polls and to work to ensure the proper conduct of the presidential election scheduled for 28 June 2010,” the Council said.

According to media reports, after the ruling National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) won last month's local council elections, opposition parties grouped under the umbrella Alliance of Democrats for Change accused their rivals of electoral fraud, and said they would not participate in Monday's presidential polls, leaving incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza as the only candidate.

In their statement, members of the Council stressed the importance of ensuring an inclusive, peaceful, free and fair electoral process in the spirit of reconciliation enshrined in the Burundian Constitution.

“The members of the Council recall the need to respect the legal framework, including the existing legal mechanisms to manage possible disputes emerging from the electoral process. The members of the Council encourage the Independent National Electoral Commission to dialogue with all political parties, within the scope of its mandate,” they added.

They commended Burundians for turning up in large numbers to participate in the local council elections last month, saying the impressive turnout was a demonstration of their commitment to democracy and peace.

“The members of the Council condemn any recourse to violence. The members of the Council underline that Burundi has the opportunity to provide an example to Africa and the rest of the world of a country that has come together and emerged from conflict and progressed towards democracy, stability and development,” the Council's statement said.