Kenya: Burundi Poll Plan Alarming

Photo: HRW
Burundi ruling party CNDD-FDD
17 December 2019
editorial

When Burundi last held a general election in 2015, it barely survived a fully fledged conflagration.

The bone of contention then was President Pierre Nkurunziza's creative, if not controversial, interpretation of the constitution to grant himself a third term that prompted an abortive coup.

Several people lost their lives in the ensuing crackdown. Others, including the Vice-President of the Constitutional Court, Mr Sylvere Nimpagaritse, fled into exile.

Bujumbura soiled relations with several countries that condemned the administration for bungling the election and treating opponents with brute force.

Indeed, life has never been the same again with the tiny country suffering isolation and the President restricting his travels abroad.

Burundi is preparing for another general election next year and ominous signs are all around.

EXTORTION

In a recent report by the lobby Human Rights Watch (HRW), the ruling CNDD-FDD party's youth league is said to force citizens to fund the elections.

HRW says members of Imbonerakure were extorting citizens for cash and food ranging from $5-500 (Sh500-50,000).

The government has denied the claim but its earlier pronouncement that it did not have enough funds to finance the election and that the citizens would contribute towards it lends credence to the HRW findings.

Notably, the Imbonerakure have been a thorn in the flesh of Burundians. They have beaten, tortured and executed suspected opponents and activists, according to the UN investigations.

President Nkurunziza has said he will not run again but it would be foolhardy to believe him.

Many African leaders have a knack for clinging on to power.

Nevertheless, he owes it to Burundians to create a peaceful campaign environment that would birth a free and fair election and spare the country another round of violence.

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