"I call upon all Burundians to go en masse to the polls and I call upon them not to yield to intimidation. It's their right to vote" - Mcaskie
Burundians vote for a national assembly today under a shadow of violence despite relatively steady progress in a series of democratic elections designed to end 12 years of ethnic conflict.
Burundi’s army and the lone rebel holdouts to the peace process, the Hutu Forces for National Liberation (FNL), clashed this week, killing at least 18 as the army stepped up patrols in anticipation of attacks during the voting.
The head of the United Nations mission to Burundi, Carolyn McAskie, said she was hopeful that the polls would run smoothly, but said violence was a possibility.
"We’ve had assurances from most of the players that there will be no violence," McAskie told Reuters. "The communal elections had to be replayed in six of 129 districts, but frankly that may happen again."
The FNL was blamed for attacks during the June 3 polls for communal, or district, councils, which forced re-votes in constituencies most affected by the violence.
Reuters Alertnet - Burundi votes for national assembly
BUJUMBURA, July 4 (Reuters) - Burundians vote for their national assembly on Monday, a key step toward selecting a president under a peace plan designed to end 12 years of ethnic bloodshed.
The election, the latest in a series of democratic polls this year that have progressed relatively steadily, began after clashes between the army and rebels that killed 18 last week. The military says the rebels are planning to disrupt voting.
The head of the United Nations mission to Burundi, Carolyn McAskie, urged voters to cast their ballot in defiance of any potential threats.
"I call upon all Burundians to go en masse to the polls and I call upon them not to yield to intimidation. It's their right to vote," McAskie told a press conference on Sunday.
"Security is in place. There is no reason to believe that there would be any disturbance."
Polls opened at 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) and were to close at 4 p.m. (1400 GMT).
Independent Online - Former rebels tipped to win Burundi elections
Bujumbura - Burundians vote on Monday in the second of a series of elections, with former Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) rebels tipped to win the first parliamentary poll since 1993 after sweeping last month's local elections.
Monday's elections will see some 3 704 candidates from 25 political parties, of which six are former rebel groups, as well as 15 independents battle it out in the country's 100 constituencies.
The elections will be crucial in determining both the majority in the country's parliament and the eventual selection of Burundi's first post-transitional president on August 19...
The FDD will "win with a wider margin on Monday," a Burundi-based diplomat said on condition of anonymity. They "will have their member as Burundi's head of state."
FDD leader Pierre Nkurunziza declared his interest in the country's top seat earlier this month.
The FDD is Burundi's former main Hutu rebel group which renounced armed struggle to push for representation in the army. It joined the transitional government, where power is equally shared between majority Hutus and minority Tutsis, in November 2003.
All of Burundi's former rebels groups are now part of the transitional government with the exception of the National Liberation Forces (FNL), which have continued to carry out armed raids in and around the capital Bujumbura despite having agreed a truce with the government in May.
The election campaign has been peaceful despite continued tension between the government and the FNL rebels during the week.
"We know that the FNL are intending to disrupt the elections, but we will do everything to make sure the elections are peaceful," the country's army chief Germain Niyoyankana said.
Burundi, human rights, Current Affairs, Politics, Africa