Burundi electoral commission proposes presidential election be held July 15

Kinido Market last night

Kinido Market last night

Just days after the Burundian Presidency came out and announced presidential elections were postponed to August 26, the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) has proposed the election will “should” be held on July 15 instead.

The commission made the proposal to a consultative between various political players in Bujumbura Monday.

According to CENI, the Communal and legislative (lower chamber) polls will be held on June 26, while senatorial polls are slated for July 24.

This new calendar proposed by the CENI comes in contradiction with recommendations made by East African Heads of state in their extraordinary summit on May 31, who suggested that the polls be delayed for not less than a month and a half, i.e. not earlier than July 15.

Pierre-Claver Ndayicariye, the Chairman of CENI said the commission has opted for this calendar in line with institutional deadlines so as to avoid institutional vacuums.

He said the calendar is a proposal issued by the electoral commission as a technical organ. “It is not a final schedule. It’s up to all stakeholders to sit and agree on it so as to be implemented,” said Ndayicariye.

The announcement was made during a meeting boycotted by the opposition and civil society who, Untill now, are committed to protest until Pesident Pierre Nkurunziza withdraws his 3rd term bid.

Speaking on behalf of 16 opposition parties and independent coalitions, Charles Nditije said they could not attend a meeting organized by an “incompetent CENI”.

According to Charles Nditije, the current makeup of the electoral commission does not allow this technical commission to convene any meeting as per the constitution.

“Article 90 of the constitution states the CENI is made up of 5 members, elected by the National Assembly and the Senate. Now that we only have three out of the five, we consider that the commission does no longer exist. So we cannot attend any meeting of an electoral commission which is practically inexistent because this would be a bypass of the law,” said Mr. Nditije.

Two out of five members of the electoral commission, Spès-Caritas Ndironkeye, Vice-President, and Illuminata Ndabahagamye, chief Financial Officer, resigned on June 1, alleging security conditions do not permit them to carry out their activities.

Edouard Nduwimana, the Burundi Interior Minister, recognized the gap prevailing in the electoral commission, saying there are currently consultations underway with the opposition to replace the two members.

He also announced the suspension of the arrest warrants against the organizers of the anti-3rd term protests provided that they cease protesting, he also said the government intends to set up a disarmament commission that will be charged with disarming imbonerakure youth militia affiliated with the ruling party CNDD-FDD, and that the government is committed to reopen shut media outlets.

Meanwhile, Kinido market near Bujumbura was gutted by a huge fire overnight in what appears to be an arson, merchandise worth millions of Burundian francs was lost.

Bujumbura Police are investigating the fire.