2020 elections: Independents out?

The draft revision of the Constitution submitted to the referendum of May 2018 redefines an independent during an electoral process. Amizero y’Abarundi Coalition denounces a strategy aimed at excluding it from the election.

Draft revision of the Constitution, submitted to the referendum of May 2018 to replace the 2005 Constitution.

Draft revision of the Constitution, submitted to the referendum of May 2018 to replace the 2005 Constitution.

“He/she is considered as independent, the candidate who has not identified with any political party for at least a year and asserts his/her independence from the usual political divisions by proposing a personal project of society”, stipulates Article 99, §2 of this revision project.

Its explanation campaign was already launched by the President of the Republic, in Bugendana commune of Gitega province more than two weeks ago.

In the same article, §3, it is specified that “a member of a governing body of a political party may stand as candidate for an independent election only after the expiry of a period of two years since his/her suspension or resignation from his/her original party. ”

However, the current Constitution defines an independent as “any person who, during the presentation of the lists, does not appear on any list of a party.”


Tatien-Sibomana-2-300x265“Towards a competition without competitors”

“Article 99 of the draft revision of the Constitution does not hide the aims of the ruling party to organize elections without competitors,” said Tatien Sibomana, from Amizero y’Abarundi Coalition.

In addition, he recalled that the dialogue has not yet been concluded. Mr Sibomana finds that the current obsession with power relates to the independents. “They want to make sure that no independent will be eligible in 2020 elections.”

Despite the division of their parties into several wings, he said that they were able to overcome this obstacle in 2015. “We were obliged to stand as independents. Even in 2020, if there is no dialogue on this issue, we will repeat that. ”

Mr Sibomana also says this constitutional revision allows the only party in power to participate in a competition without competitors.

Agathon-Rwasa-600x437“A decline of democracy”

Agathon Rwasa, president of Amizero y’Abarundi Coalition says that this constitutional revision does not only targets the independents. “It’s all discordant voices and opposition to the idea of the party in power that are targeted.”

The 1st Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly recommends the members of the presidential party and other Burundians to think about the best interest of the country before saying a word about this revision project. “This revision constitutes a decline of democracy and accentuates the exclusion of any divergent idea.”

“The fight continues”

Despite this “exclusive” article, Amizero y’Abarundi Coalition is not discouraged. “The fight continues politically because the dialogue has not yet been concluded, “says Sibomana.
He finds that men and women of law should be consistent. “We presented ourselves in 2015 as Amizero y’Abarundi Coalition of independents. Suppose the situation remains the same and that we appear in 2020 as independents. Which legal or political personality will oppose our belonging to any political party? ”

Terence Ntahiraja: "The provision aims to put an end to the legal uncertainty surrounding the status of the independent."

Terence Ntahiraja: “The provision aims to put an end to the legal uncertainty surrounding the status of the independent.”

The government reassures

“On the eve of elections, there are always games of interests that divide some political parties. Everyone wants to occupy an important position on the list, “says Térence Ntahiraja, assistant to and spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior.

With article 99 of this draft revision of the Constitution, he assures that the legislator wanted to clarify the status of the independents “and furthermore strengthen the functioning of political parties and put an end to games of interests and selfish practices.”

He gives the example of CNDD FDD, FNL, FRODEBU and UPRONA parties.

“They have been affected in the past by these games of interest. He also mentions the problem that arose in the aftermath of the 2015 elections during the formation of the government. “The law was silent on the coalition of independents. The President of the Republic had to go to the Constitutional Court for interpretation “.

For him, the legislator wanted to avoid a legal vacuum in the future.

In addition, he said the provision will inspire the legislator to revise the electoral code and the law on the functioning of political parties.

Mr. Ntahiraja also encourages political parties to build coalitions on the eve of elections. He also reassures: “People who think that the provision targets this or that political party are wrong. It aims to put an end to the legal uncertainty surrounding the status of the independent. ”

Written by Felix Haburiyakira and Renovat Ndabashinze and translated by Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana