Politicians differ over commission to amend Constitution

On 12 May, Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza appointed 15 members of a commission in charge of proposing the draft on the amendment to the Constitution. Politicians’ opinions over the commission are divergent.

President Pierre Nkurunziza received, on 12 May, the report of the National Commission for Internal Dialogue suggesting the amendment to the constitution

President Pierre Nkurunziza received, on 12 May, the report of the National Commission for Internal Dialogue suggesting the amendment to the constitution

Pascal Ngendakuriyo, the current president of the Special Court of Lands and other Property was appointed Chairperson of the commission, Déo Ruberintwari, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs appointed his deputy and Jean Pierre Amani, former Commercial Director in REGIDESO Company and new member of the National Media Regulator appointed Secretary of the commission.

The members of the commission include a representative of the presidential office, one member of the Ministry of the Interior and another one from the Ministry of Justice, three representatives of political parties and independent members of the Parliament and two representatives of the political parties of the extra-parliamentary opposition. The Head of State also appointed three representatives of religious groups, a civil society representative and a member of the national women’s forum. A representative of the National Youth Council and that of the “Batwa” ethnic group will be added to 15 members of the commission.

The commission has six months, that could be extend once for two months, to identify and analyze all the various provisions to be amended and propose them to the government.

The extension will then be granted by decree no later than one week before the expiry of the mandate.

Evariste Ndayishimiye, the ruling party’s Secretary General says his party supports the government’s commission that will identify the provisions to be amended.

Abel Gashatsi, Chairperson of UPRONA (National Union for Progress) party, says there is hope that the members of the commission will work under the government’s instructions to update the constitution. “They are from different groups and we think that they will work as technicians for the country’s benefit”, he says.

Gashatsi believes the members of the commission will update the various provisions in the strict respect of the Arusha Agreement. “There are some provisions that remain useful in the Burundian society such as the ethnic balance in different institutions”, he says.

Juvénal Ngorwanubusa, Chairperson for the Movement for the Rehabilitation of Citizens -MRC Rurenzangemero party, says it is not the right time to amend the constitution. “The members of the commission have been appointed following the opinions expressed by people who support the government. Thus, the provisions to be amended will be their own wishes but not those of all Burundians”, he says.

However, Ngorwanubusa says there are provisions that need to be amended once Burundi and its citizens are so serene and free to express themselves. In addition, he says the replacement of the two deputy presidents of the republic by a prime minister and the limited number of MPs from all parties in the National Assembly would be included in the amendment to the constitution.