Government moves to cancel peace accords and remove presidential term limits

GouvernementNational Commission of Inter-Burundian Dialogue [CNDI]published on 24 August a report, which says that participants in the dialogue proposed the amendment of the constitution and the cancellation of Arusha agreement.

This is highly controversial. Pierre Nkurunziza is currently in his third term, which is illegal according to both the current constitution and the Ausha agreement, which stipulates that no President can run more than two terms.

Many Burundians believe that Nkurunziza wants to amend the constitution in order to stay in power for life. According to the CNDI report, Burundian people wanted that the president govern until he dies.

The Council of Ministers met on 16 November to analyze how to set up a commission that could change the constitution. Philipe Nzobonariba, the Secretary General, said that the Minister of Home Affairs proposed the amendment of the constitution. He said that the commission would refer to the outcome of the ongoing inter-Burundian dialogue.

Leonce Ngendakumana, the Deputy Chairman of the opposition party [Frodebu] says that the Government’s intention to amend the constitution shows that the current regime has decided to drive Burundi deeper into isolation. He says that no other country will support them. “Even some neighboring countries that supported the Government of Burundi thinking that it would change, in the face of this radicalization will abandon it,” Ngendakumana says. He regrets that the ongoing peace process through inclusive dialogue is indefinitely suspended. Consequently, it will plunge Burundi into another civil war, he believes. “Revision of the constitution should take place in a less tense political atmosphere. The constitution is a very important legal tool for the future of a nation,” he says.

In 2014, President Pierre Nkurunziza attempted to revise the constitution to run for third , but the bill was rejected by the National Assembly. “Today he wants to amend the constitution to stay in power for life,” says Ngendakumana. The constitution in force in Burundi was promulgated on 18 March, 2005. It resulted from the Arusha Peace Agreement signed in 2000 after a civil war that lasted a decade.

Charles Nditije, opposition politician from UPRONA, accuses the Mediator and Facilitator in Burundi, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa of being responsible for Pierre Nkurunziza cancelling the Arusha Agreement. “They have done nothing to promote inclusive inter-Burundian dialogue under the auspices of the international community,” he says.

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