EAC integration

EAC court of justice not to rule on Nkurunziza’s third term case

Dieudonné Bashirahishize ©Iwacu

Dieudonne Bashirahishize, one of EACSOF members

The East African Community (EAC) Court of Justice found the complaints about President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term unfounded. The EAC’s civil society collective, EACSOF, made the complaints but the court said it cannot rule on a case already decided by the local courts. Burundi’ government represented by the Lawyer Nestor Kayobera, welcomes this decision. The court found that the 2015 elections met with Burundian law, Kayobera said. That is the reason why the EACSOF’s complaints were ignored. The court found that the question related to the third term of Pierre Nkuruziza is no longer relevant since they filed their complaints too late. The court also found that Burundi’s constitutional court decision is irreplaceable.

EACOSOF Lawyers were angry that the EAC court has dragged its feet on this issue, which violated Burundi’s constitution and led to widespread upheaval and killings by the security forces and armed opposition. The UN accused the government of hundreds of summary executions in a report released in September this year.

According to Dieudonne Bashirahishize, one of EACSOF members, all judges of the EAC Court of Justice are appointed by EAC heads of state, some of whom support Pierre Nkurunziza. “We did not expect a clear decision to be taken by this court. The judges could not say that Nkurunziza has violated the law to prevent him from continuing to govern,” he says. For him, they will appeal against the EAC court decision.

The Burundi government’s representative Nestor Kayobera requested that Burundians have confidence in the Burundian justice system.

Political violence has been escalating in Burundi since April 2015 when the ruling party CNDD-FDD presented Pierre Nkurunziza as its candidate for the presidential election of June 2015, a plan that opposition political parties and some civil society organizations say violated the Burundi constitution and the Arusha Peace Accords.