Politics

‘Teshwute’ campaign is null and void, says spokesman for Ministry of Interior

The spokesman for the Minister of the Interior declared on January 8 that the citizen’s campaign launched on January 5 to obstruct the process to amend the Burundian Constitution is null and void. These civil society organizations no longer exist, he says.

Spokesman for the Minister of Interior, Térence Ntahiraja: “The 23 so-called Burundian civil society organizations that have called for resistance to the upcoming constitutional referendum no longer exist”

Spokesman for the Minister of Interior, Térence Ntahiraja: “The 23 so-called Burundian civil society organizations that have called for resistance to the upcoming constitutional referendum no longer exist”

“23 so-called Burundian civil society organizations that have called for resistance to the upcoming constitutional referendum do not exist anymore. This campaign is void and without effect,” says Térence Ntahiraja, the spokesman for the Minister of Interior, on January 8. According to him, even if these organizations would still exist, they would not represent the Burundian civil society.

“The Burundian civil society was composed of 6,500 non-profit associations in 2015 and it is today made up of 7,500 non-profit associations authorized to legally operate in the country.

However, even if the 23 so-called non-profit associations would still exist, they would only represent 3% of Burundian civil society, “says Ntahiraja adding that only the majority of votes count in democracy.

The 23 organizations that organized the ‘Teshwute’ campaign are not recognized in Burundi. Some have been struck off by the Minister of Interior as they were accused of inciting the population to violence while the others were not registered in the department of Home Affairs. The leaders of these organizations participated in the campaign ‘Halt to the third term of Pierre Nkurunziza’ to protest the re-election of President Pierre Nkurunziza in 2015 that they considered illegal and unconstitutional.

Constitutional referendum violates Constitution

On January 5, 23 civil society organizations launched a call for resistance to the upcoming referendum of the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi scheduled for May 2018. “It is a constitutional revision that violates the already existing Constitution,” reads a statement released by those organizations.

For them, the draft constitution violates Article 299 of the current Constitution. They state that the draft constitution is initiated against a backdrop of institutional, political and security crisis where more than 1500 Burundians were killed, hundreds of people tortured, more than 1000 people reported missing, over 420,000 Burundians forced into exile, more than 200,000 internally displaced and about ten thousand Burundians arbitrarily detained.

Ntahiraja contradicts the statement of these organizations arguing that the proposed amendment to the constitution is a response to the Burundian people’s recommendations made during the session of inter-Burundian dialogue sessions led by the National Commission for the Inter-Burundians Dialogue (CNDI), the recommendations of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) as well as the results of the meetings held by leaders of political parties.

He accuses these organizations of producing biased reports on the security situation in Burundi. “They report more than 1500 Burundians killed, 1000 people missing, more than 420000 Burundian refugees, they are telling lies… We would like to remind both national and international communities that the content of this campaign is full of false reports and lies,” says Ntahiraja.

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