Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
March 11, 2014

The United States is deeply concerned by the Government of Burundi’s actions to prevent or break up two separate meetings of opposition political parties on March 8. We deplore the government’s use of heavy-handed tactics on March 8 to break up a peaceful International Women’s Day rally by the women’s wing of the opposition political party, United for National Progress.

We also condemn the violence that occurred later the same day in the capital between police and members of opposition political parties when the police tried to prevent an opposition meeting at the headquarters of the Movement for Solidarity and Democracy political party. We denounce the opposition’s seizure of two police officers as hostages and the ensuing violence that occurred between the police and the opposition. Actions taken by both sides are inconsistent with Burundi’s notable progress toward creating a peaceful democracy.

We strongly urge the Government of Burundi to adhere to its human rights obligations and to respect the constitutional right of the political opposition to hold peaceful gatherings. We also call on both the government and the opposition to reject violence and the use of force. We stress the importance of all parties in Burundi respecting the democratic process so that Burundi can hold free, fair, and peaceful elections in 2015.