Burundi Justice warns those who would disrupt constitutional referendum process

The Supreme Court released on April 24, a statement on the rapid punishment of crimes that will be committed during the referendum campaign and polling day. Some politicians describe the justice decision as intimidation.

Pancras Cimpaye, Spokesman for CNARED: “Justice has become a repression tool against government opponents”

Pancras Cimpaye, Spokesman for CNARED: “Justice has become a repression tool against government opponents”

The staff of the courts and prosecutor’s offices all over the country must be available at any time of the day or night to commence proceedings after a person has been caught in flagrante delicto, reads the statement released on April 24 by the Supreme Court.

Agnès Bangiricenge, secretary general of the Supreme Court said the system of criminal permanence has been strengthened for this purpose. The time is serious and the coming weeks are crucial for the country. The opening of the referendum campaign is scheduled for May 1 and the constitutional referendum two weeks later.

Burundi justice has therefore opted to apply the law and condemn immediately anyone who will commit offence intended to disrupt the upcoming election. A warning is also given to the population and political organizations for this effect, as indicated by the secretary general of the Supreme Court.

Pancras Cimpaye, the spokesman for CNARED, an opposition platform in exile, believes that the statement by the Supreme Court means that any attempt to campaign or vote against the referendum will be considered as an offence. He deplores the fact that justice has become a repression tool against government opponents. “Only voting yes is allowed in this referendum,” he says.

On the other hand, UPRONA party appreciates the measure taken by the Supreme Court. According to Abel Gashatsi, party’s chairman, there are always people who attempt to disrupt elections process. He finds that it is necessary that justice does its job to prevent disorder during this election period. What is important for UPRONA is that all Burundians be treated equally before the law. “Justice should not use its powers to repress this or the other person,” Gashatsi says.