UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. electoral observers in Burundi say last week's election that won President Pierre Nkurunziza a controversial third term took place in an environment that was "not conducive for an inclusive, free and credible electoral process."
Monday's preliminary statement notes that while last Tuesday's election in the impoverished East African nation was relatively peaceful after weeks of violent protests, the media was restricted and freedom of expression and assembly was "severely impaired."
Nkurunziza has faced controversy over whether his new term is constitutional. Protesters say the constitution limits the president to two terms, but supporters say he was chosen by lawmakers — and not popularly elected — for his first term in 2005, making this third term legal.
Nkurunziza did not face a strong challenger, as some opposition groups refused to run. The United States and Britain already had condemned last week's election as not being credible.
At least 100 people have died in protests since the ruling party announced in April that Nkurunziza would run again. The U.N. refugee agency has said more than 170,000 people fled the country as tensions rose. An attempted military coup in mid-May was quickly put down by pro-Nkurunziza forces.
Many fear the widespread violence will continue in the nation of 10 million people, which has a history of unrest, including four coups and a civil war that killed 250,000 people.
Earlier this month, U.N. electoral observers announced that Burundi's recent parliamentary elections were not free, credible and inclusive, saying that they took place "in a tense political crisis."