Nku­run­z­iza: I won’t run in 2020

NEW LAWS: Bu­rundi leader pledges to leave o∞ce, calm­ing politi­cians op­posed to his ex­tended rule

The East African - - FRONT PAGE -

Bu­run­dian Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza has promised to step down when his term ends in 2020, eas­ing fears of fresh vi­o­lence in the coun­try. Pres­i­dent Nku­run­z­iza had been widely ex­pected to take ad­van­tage of re­cent changes to the con­sti­tu­tion to stand for two more terms -- rais­ing con­cerns that Bu­rundi would see a re­peat of the un­rest that erupted af­ter he stood for a third time in 2015. But, while pro­mul­gat­ing the new Con­sti­tu­tion he said: “My term is end­ing in 2020. This con­sti­tu­tion was not mod­i­fied for Pierre Nku­run­z­iza... It was amended for the good and bet­ter fu­ture of Bu­rundi.”

A JOINT RE­PORT

Bu­rundi’s Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza has promised to step down when his term ends in 2020, eas­ing fears of fresh vi­o­lence in the coun­try.

Pres­i­dent Nku­run­z­iza had been widely ex­pected to take ad­van­tage of re­cent changes to the Con­sti­tu­tion to stand for two more terms — rais­ing con­cerns that the coun­try would see a re­peat of the un­rest that erupted af­ter he stood for a third time in 2015.

But, while pro­mul­gat­ing the new Con­sti­tu­tion at Bu­gen­dana, Gitega Prov­ince, in the cen­tral part of the coun­try, he said: “My term is end­ing in 2020. This Con­sti­tu­tion was not mod­i­fied for Pierre Nku­run­z­iza as the coun­try’s en­e­mies have been say­ing. It was amended for the good and bet­ter fu­ture of Bu­rundi and the Bu­run­dian peo­ple.”

Pres­i­dent Nku­run­z­iza promised to con­tinue work­ing for his coun­try even af­ter leav­ing of­fice.

Op­po­si­tion politi­cians who had ac­cused him of try­ing to cling to power gave the state­ment a guarded wel­come.

“I think he just wants to calm in­ter­nal pub­lic opin­ion and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity,” said Léonce Ngen­daku­mana, deputy chair­man of the op­po­si­tion Frodebu group.

Op­po­nents had ac­cused Pres­i­dent Nku­run­z­iza of go­ing against the Con­sti­tu­tion and the terms of a peace deal that ended an eth­ni­cally charged civil war. Thou­sands fled vi­o­lence that erupted af­ter protests and a failed coup.

Last month, vot­ers ap­proved changes to the Con­sti­tu­tion, which would the­o­ret­i­cally al­low Pres­i­dent Nku­run­z­iza to stay in power un­til 2034.

The op­po­si­tion said the vote was marred by in­tim­i­da­tion and fraud — a charge the gov­ern­ment de­nied. Rights groups also raised the alarm.

But, last week Thurs­day, Pres­i­dent Nku­run­z­iza said he would sup­port who­ever re­placed him in 2020.

The for­mer rebel leader first came to power in 2005 at the end of Bu­rundi’s civil war, which left at least 300,000 peo­ple dead.

If he steps down, he will be the first Bu­run­dian pres­i­dent to peace­fully hand over power.

Af­ter pro­mul­gat­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion, which in­tro­duces many po­lit­i­cal and ad­min­is­tra­tive changes, all fo­cus is on the Bu­run­dian leader, with many wait­ing to see how he will con­sti­tute the gov­ern­ment. The new laws al­low for the ap­point­ment of a prime min­is­ter and only one vice-pres­i­dent.

The law also re­views the coun­try’s ad­min­is­tra­tive pro­ce­dures, in­clud­ing the read­ing of bud­get from De­cem­ber to July.

Ar­ti­cle 182 of the new Con­sti­tu­tion says that the fi­nan­cial year starts on July 1 and ends on June 30 of the next year.

“If the na­tional assem­bly has not pro­nounced on the date of June 30, the pre­vi­ous year’s bud­get is taken up by pro­vi­sional twelfths,” reads the ar­ti­cle.

Pic­ture: File

Pres­i­dent Nku­run­z­iza said he will not vie for of­fice in 2020 de­spite the new Con­sti­tu­tion al­low­ing him to re­main in power un­til 2034.

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