Nkurunziza gets ready to serve again
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.