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U.N. says Burundi election was not free, fair or credible

Members of the Burundian National Independent Electoral Commission count votes for the parliamentary elections at a polling station near Musaga neighbourhood in capital Bujumbura, June 29, 2015. REUTERS/Paulo Nunes dos Santos

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Burundi’s parliamentary election was not free, fair, transparent or credible and violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms were committed, the United Nations said on Thursday.

Burundi has been locked in its worst political crisis since its civil war ended a decade ago, with protests erupting in late April against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid to seek a third term in office. Dozens have been killed.

The opposition boycotted the parliamentary election on Monday. A presidential vote is scheduled for July 15. Opponents say the president’s attempt to stand again violates the constitution.

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said the preliminary conclusion of the U.N. electoral observer mission in Burundi was that “the overall environment was not conducive for free, credible and inclusive elections.”

“Episodes of violence and explosions preceded and in some cases accompanied election day activities,” Haq said. “The U.N. mission ... observed media freedom restrictions, violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

“This includes infringements to the right of the political opposition to campaign freely, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary detentions, and acts of violence committed by armed youth groups aligned with political parties,” he said.

At least six people, including one policeman, were killed in Burundi’s capital on Wednesday, witnesses and a police spokesman said.

About 140,000 people have fled the country, stoking concern in a region with a history of ethnic conflict, particularly in Rwanda, where 800,000 people were killed in 1994.

New Zealand’s U.N. Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen, president of the U.N. Security Council for July, said the 15-member body expressed concern “that the minimum conditions for free, fair, transparent and credible elections were not met.”

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by David Gregorio