27 October 2017

Burundi: Constitution to Be Amended, Says Government Spokesperson

Photo: Présidence Burundi
Le Président Pierre Nkurunziza délivrant son discours d'investiture.

On 24 October, the cabinet met in its extraordinary session. The analysis of the report about the Constitution amendment was among the key topics on the agenda. Some Burundi politicians do not converge on its amendment.

The government has authorized the commission to amend the constitution in the meeting of the cabinet ministers held on October 24. Philippe Nzobonariba, Spokesperson for the government says the Council of Ministers adopted it and gave permission to the commission to move on to the next step. "Out of the 307 articles in the current Constitution, 77 will be amended, 3 will be completely removed while 9 new others will be added", he says.

The spokesperson for the government says the main proposal of the commission was a semi-presidential and semi-parliamentary regime. "The Head of State will be elected through direct universal suffrage and the prime minister who is the head of government will come from the elected representatives of the party in power.

Nzobonariba also says the Head of State will be assisted by a vice president from different ethnic group and political party from the president of the republic. He says after analyzing the report which is the first step of the commission, the cabinet unanimously adopted the report on the amendment to the constitution.

"The Constitution amendment definitively suspended the Arusha Agreement"

Charles Nditije, the chairman of National Council for the Respect of Arusha Agreement-CNARED, says the government intends to amend the new Constitution. "We are not surprised, President Pierre Nkurunziza has long ago tried to suspend the Arusha Agreement", he says.

According to the Article 299 of the Constitution, it is strictly forbidden to amend it to avoid creating any tension between Burundians. He also says President Nkurunziza seeks to amend the constitution to stay in power and run up for the 2034 elections. "There is no doubt that the ruling party will win the forthcoming elections and the prime minister surely will come from that party", he says.

Nditije says he ignores the Burundi's future as the Arusha Agreement will also be affected. "By amending the Constitution, President Nkurunziza notifies that it is the end of the Inter-Burundian dialogue and the situation will become worse and worse", he says.

On behalf of Frodebu Nyakuri "Iragi rya Ndadaye" party, Keffa Nibizi, the chairman says the commission in charge of the Constitution Amendment should meet once again political parties and civil society organizations to discuss more thoroughly the articles to be amended. "Even if we have already met the commission, the government should reveal the articles to be amended to remove any suspicion between Burundians", he says.

In May 2017, Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza appointed 15 members of a commission in charge of proposing the draft on the amendment to the Constitution.

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