“Moment not opportune to amend current constitution,” Burundi catholic bishops say

As the electoral campaign for the upcoming constitutional referendum has officially begun on May 2nd, Burundi catholic bishops find that the moment is inopportune to amend the constitution. They call on Burundians to safeguard unity and peace.

Joachim Ntahondereye, Chairman of the Conference of Burundi Catholic Bishops

Joachim Ntahondereye, Chairman of the Conference of Burundi Catholic Bishops

In a statement released on May 2, Joachim Ntahondereye, Chairman of the Burundi Catholic Bishops Conference, has said it is not the right time to amend the current constitution, arguing that Burundian refugees who are not yet repatriated for various reasons will not participate in these elections.
He has also said many Burundians are so scaredthat they do not dare to express openly their opinion for fear of persecution. “This fear is often caused by some speeches, attitude and behavior of some Burundians who use violence or abuse their authority to inhibit the freedom of expression or opinion of their political opponents,” says “Ntahondereye” adding that, “All this arouses our concerns about the amendment to the constitution in the current context.”

Ntahondereye, says democracy has been undermined in Burundi since 2015 explaining this with the divisions that occurred within political parties as well civil society organizations. “So far, no solution to this problem has been found since the efforts of the dialogue which should bring them together have not succeeded,” he says.

Burundi catholic bishops wonder that Articles 200 and 299 of the current constitution, which mainly stipulate that no procedure of revision can be retained if it undermines national unity, the cohesion of the Burundian people or reconciliation, were not taken into account before initiating the project to amend the constitution.

“We realize that instead of uniting Burundians, the work that has been done and the resulting draft constitution seemto have exacerbated the disagreements,” says Ntahondereye.

Catholic bishops call on Burundians to safeguard peace and unity. ” Since the democratic policy established by our country privileges the vote, we wish that the referendum be done in peace and freedom and without pressure. We wish that Burundians vote freely “yes” or “no”, “he says.