Bu­rundi pres­i­dent says God will de­feat rebels

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Burundian Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza warned rebels Thurs­day that they would be crushed by God af­ter be­ing sworn in for a con­tro­ver­sial third term fol­low­ing weeks of protests and a failed coup against him.

Nku­run­z­iza thanked God for his win in elec­tions last month — polls the United Na­tions say were not free or fair — af­ter tak­ing the oath of of­fice in a sur­prise cer­e­mony in the cap­i­tal Bu­jum­bura an­nounced only hours be­fore.

“The vic­tory we have achieved is a vic­tory of all Bu­run­di­ans, those who elected us, and those who did not,” Nku­run­z­iza said.

The United States sharply crit­i­cized the in­au­gu­ra­tion, warn­ing that po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue and in­ter­na­tional ef­forts to me­di­ate it were key to bring­ing Bu­rundi “back from the precipice.”

“To­day’s in­au­gu­ra­tion in Bu­rundi demon­strates the rul­ing party’s in­tent to ig­nore the voices of its peo­ple in pur­suit of its own po­lit­i­cal agenda,” State Depart­ment spokesman John Kirby said.

Nku­run­z­iza’s third term has been con­demned as un­con­sti­tu­tional by the op­po­si­tion and pro- voked months of protests. There has been a string of killings since his re-elec­tion, in­clud­ing of his top se­cu­rity chief, as­sas­si­nated in a rocket at­tack last month.

But Nku­run­z­iza, an ex- rebel turned born-again Chris­tian who be­lieves he is in power by di­vine choice, warned those who have cho­sen “the path that leads nowhere, who at­tack and fight their coun­try” will be stopped by the hand of God.

“They will be scat­tered like flour thrown into the air — as the God of heaven is a wit­ness, the Bu­run­di­ans will be at peace,” he said.

Con­sti­tu­tional Changes?

No for­eign head of state was present, but sev­eral African coun­tries, as well as China and Rus­sia, sent their am­bas­sadors. Euro­pean Union na­tions and the United States sent lower rank­ing of­fi­cials.

In his oath, Nku­run­z­iza swore loy­alty to the con­sti­tu­tion and “to ded­i­cate all my forces to the de­fense of the best in­ter­ests of the na­tion, to as­sure na­tional unity and the co­he­sion of the Burundian peo­ple, so­cial peace and jus­tice.”

But Nku­run­z­iza also said he would re­view pos­si­ble changes to a key clause in the con­sti­tu­tion — which re­quires min­is­ters to come from a party with at least five per­cent of the na­tional vote — to al­low the for­ma­tion of a unity gov­ern­ment.

Amid op­po­si­tion boy­cotts, some law­mak­ers are tech­ni­cally on in­de­pen­dent lists, mak­ing them in­el­i­gi­ble to join the gov­ern­ment.

But the same con­sti­tu­tional ar­ti­cle also en­shrines a fun­da­men­tal block of the deal that ended the 1993-2006 civil war, the strict eth­nic quo­tas in power be­tween the ma­jor­ity Hutu and mi­nor­ity Tutsi.

Nku­run­z­iza won over 69 per­cent of the vote in the dis­puted pres­i­den­tial poll last month, giv­ing him a land­slide first round vic­tory.

But the United Na­tions ob­server mis­sion said the vote last month was not “in­clu­sive, free and cred­i­ble” and was held “in an en­vi­ron­ment of pro­found mis­trust” be­tween po­lit­i­cal ri­vals.

AP

Bu­rundi’s Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza is sworn in for a third term at a cer­e­mony in the par­lia­ment in Bu­jum­bura, Bu­rundi, Thurs­day, Aug. 20.

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