11 March 2017

Burundi: A Leader, If Elected, Should Stay in Power Indefinitely - Speaker of Burundi National Assembly

The speaker of the National Assembly announced on Thursday that a president chosen and loved by the people should stay in power. An expert in the peaceful resolution of conflicts, however, says that the Government of Burundi wants to completely ignore the Arusha Peace agreement.

"Presidential terms must not be limited, to give the opportunity to those who are chosen and loved by the people to remain president. Power must emanate from the people's will," said Pascal Nyabenda, the speaker of the Burundi National Assembly, on Thursday.

Jean Claude Nkundwa, an expert in the peaceful resolution of conflict, says that the Burundian authorities' willingness to violate the Arusha agreement discourages the Burundian people, who hoped they had taken a path to democracy and reconciliation based on the Arusha Peace Agreement. Signed in 2000, the agreement brought an end to the civil war that lasted a decade.

Nkundwa believes the government is showing the international community and Burundian people that it will ignore the Arusha Peace Agreement and the constitution, which stipulates that no president can govern for more than two terms.

The Special Advisor of the United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG) for Conflict Prevention, Jamal Benomar, told the UNSG on 9 March that the willingness of Burundi's President, Pierre Nkurunziza, to seek a fourth term in 2020 could intensify the current crisis and increase international isolation.

According to the latest UNSG report on Burundi, which the Special Advisor presented yesterday morning, the President of Burundi announced his possible candidacy for the 2020 elections at the end of 2016, "after a week of prayer under his leadership".

The Ambassador of Burundi to the UN, Albert Shingiro said the UNSG's concern about a fourth term of President Pierre Nkurunziza is unfounded. "Burundi is a victim of the policy of double standards, since some African presidents govern six or even more terms," Shingiro said.

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