6 November 2017

Burundi in Panic As Nkurunziza Seeks to Extend Reign

Photo: Govt of Burundi
President Pierre Nkurunziza celebrated the 53rd anniversary of the independence of Burundi at Prince Louis Rwagasore stadium.

Kigali — AFRICAN leaders have been urged to urgently address the worsening crisis in Burundi, which coincides with the country becoming the first nation to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The East African country withdrew on October 27. Indications that President Pierre Nkurunziza could run for another term in 2020 have exacerbated tensions. Nkurunziza (53) is seeking possibly 14 more years of power. If this draft constitution is adopted by referendum, which should be held at the beginning of 2018, he could thus maintain his reign for 29 years. A majority of political opposition and civil society leaders as well as civilians have fled the country in recent months, thus compromising the constitutional revision and credibility of the referendum. Burundi has been plunged for two and a half years into a crisis characterized by the commission of serious human rights violations, including international crimes, which have claimed thousands of civilian victims.

The crisis emanates from Nkurunziza, in power since 2005, controversially securing a third term. Over 3 million people need humanitarian aid while 400 000 Burundians have fled to neighboring countries. Organisations including the International Federation for Human Rights and the banned Iteka League, the oldest non-governmental organisation in Burundi, have called on the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights on its ongoing meeting in Gambia to strengthen commitment to a resolution of the crisis. "FIDH and the Iteka League are once again alarming the risk of establishing a lasting dictatorial regime in Burundi led by alleged perpetrators of serious crimes seeking to limit investigations into the abuses they order," the organisations jointly stated. - CAJ News

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