26 January 2017

Tanzania: Parcem Warns Against Touching Arusha Peace Agreement Clauses

PARCEM, the local NGO aiming at awakening conscience and changing Burundians' mentality is concerned about changes to be made in the Constitution. "We heard about the possible amendment of the Constitution. What matters most is what should or should not be changed. Article 299 of the Constitution does not permit any change which may degrade national unity, reconciliation, and democracy. Any amendment should abide by this article", says Faustin Ndikumana, PARCEM Chairman in a briefing press on 25 January.

Ndikumana says there is no problem of amending the Constitution for the betterment of people's lives but warns that the Arusha Peace Agreement should not be neglected. "All that was agreed on in Arusha and added in the Constitution should not be modified for it is the cornerstone of political stability and reconciliation in the country. All articles and clauses of the Arusha Peace Agreement should not be modified".

However, PARCEM agrees that the government should emphasize on some institutions which had been mentioned in the Constitution but were never set up. "For instance The Constitution highlights a high court of justice and national board for unity and reconciliation. The two institutions were supposed to give a report annually to the President, National Assembly and Senate but ever since the adoption of the Constitution, they have never been created", he says.

Arusha accords were signed in August 2000 between Burundi government and opposition leaders, after negotiations facilitated by the Late Presidents Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Nelson Mandela of South Africa to put an end to a civil war and a political conflict that last about 10 years.

In November 2016, the Ministerial Council approved a proposal made by the national commission for inter-Burundian dialogue-CNDI. It was about elements which should be amended in the Constitution such as the annulment of the presidential term limit and the supremacy of the Constitution over the Arusha Peace Agreement. The Ministerial Council approved the proposal and proposed the president to set up a commission to work on it.

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