26 December 2017

Burundi: No Catholic Representation in Provincial Electoral Commissions

Prosper Ntahorwamiye, Spokesperson for the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) says the commission did not get any application from the Catholic Church. He, however, says it was represented in the consultation meeting on 15 December.

Ntahorwamiye says the Chairman of the Conference of Burundi Catholic Bishops [CECAB], Bishop Joachim Ntahondereye, addressed a correspondence to the national electoral commission a few days later stating that priests were so busy during Christmas period that they could not send any delegate.

From 26 to 27 December, the National Independent Electoral Commission is putting in place its members at the provincial level [CEPI] with a six-month term. They will organize the referendum for the amendment to the Constitution which will take place in May 2018.

In the meeting with political parties, religious denominations and civil society organizations on 15 December, Pierre Claver Ndayicariye, CENI Chairman, had said those groups had five days to send the applications of their candidates to the national electoral commission. Each organization had to present three candidates per province.

Archbishop Evariste Ngoyagoye who represented the Catholic Church in the meeting said the period given to submit applications was very short. "Some people will not have enough time to submit all the required documents within the set deadline", he said.

In 2015, the Catholic Church withdrew its delegates from CENI branches following their concerns which did not receive any response. The church's concerns were namely the cessation of violence that occurred in 2015, the re-opening of some radio stations and the improvement of all the necessary conditions so that the 2015 elections could take place in a calm atmosphere.

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