22 August 2015

Burundi: Nkurunziza Is Sworn in in a Surprise Ceremony

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza was on Thursday morning sworn in for a controversial third term in a ceremony announced only three hours before time.

The event was a pale shadow of the 2010 swearing-in ceremony, which was well planned.

Analysts attributed the shroud of secrecy surrounding the ceremony to security concerns. There have been tensions in the capital Bujumbura since the contentious re-election of President Nkurunziza, with violent protests and targeted killings witnessed in the city.

On Tuesday, security was beefed up at all strategic government institutions, such as the National broadcaster (RTNB), while on Thursday, there were patrols in Bujumbura, with the army and police blocking the main roads leading to parliament, which is a few kilometres from the Ngagara and Cibitoke suburbs -- the hot spots of protests against President Nkurunziza.

The inauguration was attended by government officials and a few foreign diplomats. The European Union was represented by its deputy ambassador, South Africa by Deputy Minister of Security Ellen Molekane, while Russia, Tanzania, Kenya, and China were represented by their respective ambassadors.

The presidents of China and Seychelles were the first to congratulate President Nkurunziza after the ceremony. The East African Community was not represented.

Burundians followed the ceremony live on state broadcaster RTNB.

A smiling President Nkurunziza was dressed in a blue suit, white shirt and a red necktie, and held the Burundian and union flags in his left hand and his staff in his right. After being sworn in he was congratulated by first lady Denise Nkurunziza and his erstwhile rival Agathon Rwasa.

Rwasa's Amizero Y'a Barundi, UPRONA, RANAC and FNL, which have been criticised by other opposition parties for being sympathetic to the ruling party, were the only opposition political parties present in parliament.

Gaston Sindimwo, the secretary-general of UPRONA, was elected the first vice-president while Joseph Butore from the ruling CNDD-FDD party was appointed the second vice president in accordance with the Arusha Accord and the country's Constitution, which say that if the president is a Hutu, then his deputy should be a Tutsi.

Many Burundi opposition and civil society leaders have fled the country in fear of their lives. The opposition parties that boycotted the elections have now formed a new union -- CNARED.

"We condemn all those who were against the elections in protest against democracy. Political parties should respect each other and we will continue to fight for the country's unity and the restoration of peace and stability," said President Nkurunziza in his speech.

John Kirby the US state Department spokesperson said in a statement, "Today's inauguration in Burundi demonstrates the ruling party's intent to ignore the voices of the people in pursuit of its own political agenda an inauguration without a government that represents the population's many political voices and without a comprehensive and inclusive dialogue will not resolve the political and security crises in Burundi."


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