Nku­run­z­iza gets ready to serve again

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - ISSAKA IKPORR

BURUNDI pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza said if his cit­i­zens per­sist and the law al­lows him, he would run for the pres­i­dency in 2020, which would see him serv­ing a third term.

The coun­try’s con­si­tu­tion, in line with the Arusha Ac­cords, pre­vents lead­ers from serv­ing more than two con­sec­u­tive terms.

How­ever, Nku­run­z­iza said he would run again, if the ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ing party coali­tion passes con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments which would al­low him to serve a third term.

“In other coun­tries, there are no terms lim­its. In Uganda, in Cameroon and else­where. No-one can eat terms, this is dis­sua­sion,” Nku­run­z­iza said. A com­mis­sion has al­ready be­gun work to an­a­lyse a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment to be put be­fore the Na­tional Assem­bly for a vote.

Burundi’s Na­tional Assem­bly and Sen­ate seats be­long to the rul­ing party CNDDFDD and its al­lies, mak­ing it easy to pass th­ese amend­ments.

Burundi’s leader said that if the peo­ple see that “terms don’t mat­ter” and if the laws are re­spected, he will run in 2020.

In June 2015, he said he was end­ing his term in 2020 af­ter the his re-elec­tion was blocked by the op­po­si­tion as it would be in vi­o­la­tion of the Arusha Ac­cords and the con­sti­tu­tion that limit pres­i­dents to two terms.

“I promised not to rep­re­sent my­self in 2020 ac­cord­ing to the de­ci­sions of the jus­tice, but the peo­ple are above the jus­tice,” he said.

The lo­cal com­mis­sion driv­ing the amend­ments is seen by the op­po­si­tion as a tool for the pres­i­dent to le­git­imise his power, and is led by Pas­tor Justin Nzoy­is­aba, known to be a close ally of Nku­run­z­iza’s. The re­port handed to the pres­i­dent three months ago rec­om­mends the pres­i­dent serves un­til he is tired.

“This com­mis­sion is there to le­git­i­mate Nku­run­z­iza’s crimes only,” Anicet Nyam­bere, a key op­po­si­tion fig­ure warned. “This is not a ref­er­en­dum, it is a com­mis­sion that talks only to peo­ple who be­long to the rul­ing party and peo­ple who at­tend the talks lo­cally are well se­lected. Only those who are known as power sup­port­ers can at­tend eas­ily.” Nku­run­z­iza then, will not re­lin­quish power in 2020, con­trary to his 2015 prom­ises, Nyam­bere said.

The con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments would al­low Nku­run­z­iza to re­main in power, likely in­spired by other re­gional lead­ers like Uganda Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni, who has been in power since 1986, and Rwan­dan leader Paul Kagame, in power since 2000, “who are today be­yond their third terms”, he said.

Many of Nku­run­z­iza’s sup­port­ers have said he has tech­ni­cally not served two terms al­ready, claim­ing that his first term as pres­i­dent did not count as he was elected by par­lia­ment and not by the peo­ple.

Pierre Nku­run­z­iza

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