13 November 2017

Burundi: Change of Constitution Is a Breach to Arusha Agreement, Burundi Opposition Warns

Photo: IRIN / Phil Moore
Manifestations in Bujumbura (file photo).

"This unilateral process to amend the constitution reflects the will of president Nkurunziza to govern for life through a constitutional monarchy type system," reads a letter of 8November signed by Nestor Girukwishaka, on behalf of Agathon Rwasa , Evariste Ngayimpenda, members of the Amizero political coalition and Juvenal Ngorwanubusa, the chairman of MRC-Rurenzangemero party.

These politicians call on the mediator in the Burundi crisis, Yoweri Museveni, the UN Secretary-General and the Chairman of the African Union commission on the danger of amending the basic law.

The cabinet meeting held on 24 October, the government authorized the commission to amend the constitution. 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 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The presidential terms limit to two five-year terms has been replaced by that of seven-years renewable once.

For those politicians, this is a dramatic step for our country and the sub-region. It is a bad precedent for the whole world. "The amendment to the constitutional definitively suspends the Arusha Agreement," they say. They describe the change of the constitution as the violation of the rule of law.

In case the constitution is amended, these opponents believe that the ruling party would have all the levers to impose its will. "What would prevent the ruling CNDD-FDD from permanently omitting any reference to any politico-ethnic power sharing and causing the irreparable damage?"

For this reason, they are calling for the East African Community, the African Union, the United Nations and the entire international community to use all their powers to prevent the Government of Burundi from amending the constitution. "As a product of a political and social consensus, the Arusha Agreement and the resulting Constitution cannot be revised on the initiative of the ruling party only," according to the representatives of three opposition political parties.

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