Politics

Politicians’ ideas diverge on constitutional referendum

On the second day of the campaign for the upcoming constitutional referendum scheduled for May 17, 2018, Léonce Ngendakumana, Chairman of Sahwanya FRODEBU, has called this 3 May, members of the party to vote ‘no’ to the referendum.

Léonce Ngendakumana, Chairman of Sahwanya FRODEBU: “The new Constitution will allow the president to remain in power forever, which is contrary to the Arusha Agreement…”

Léonce Ngendakumana, Chairman of Sahwanya FRODEBU: “The new Constitution will allow the president to remain in power forever, which is contrary to the Arusha Agreement…”

According to him “voting ” no ” means refusing the establishment of a single party system and preserving the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement and the Constitution that resulted from it,” he says.

He says the amendment to the Constitution will undermine democracy in Burundi. “The new Constitution will allow the president of Burundi to remain in power forever which is contrary to the Arusha Agreement signed in 2000 to end a civil war that erupted in 1993 after the assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye,” says the chairman of Sahwanya FRODEBU. *

“The constitutional change would allow the president to stay in office until 2034 while the Arusha Agreement provisions state that the president shall be elected for a term of five years, renewable only once,” he has said.

According to Ngendakumana, the current Constitution should not be amended since it is the result of a peace agreement that allowed the country’s stability after more than 10 years of bloody war.

He adds that the moment is not opportune to change the constitution. He refers to Article 299 of the current Constitution which states that no procedure of revision can be retained if it undermines national unity, the cohesion of Burundian people and reconciliation. “All Burundians will not have the opportunity to vote since a large number of them are still in exile and the security situation is not propitious for the amendment to the Constitution,” he has said.

Olivier Nkurunziza, Secretary General of UPRONA, officially recognized by Burundi government, says members of the party decided to vote “yes” to the referendum since the draft constitution is inspired by the Arusha Agreement. The ethnic balance has not changed.

He adds that Burundians must know that the 2005 Constitution has not completely changed. “It consisted of 307 articles and the new is composed of 292 articles. Only 50 articles have been amended,” says Nkurunziza.

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