Burundi opposition figure elected deputy speaker of parliament

Agathon Rwasa (L) and his bitter rival in parliament. opposition accuse him of betrayal

Agathon Rwasa (L) and his bitter rival in parliament. opposition accuse him of betrayal

Agathon Rwasa, the Burundi opposition leader of the independent coalition Hope for Burundians, has been elected as 1st deputy speaker of Burundi Legislative Assembly (Lower Chamber), despite his vociferous rejection of the recent legislative and presidential elections.

He now serves in the Bureau of the National Assembly along with Pascal Nyabenda, the Chairman of the ruling party CNDD-FDD who has been elected Speaker, and Edouard Nduwimana, Burundi Minister for Home Affairs, the new second deputy speaker.

Rwasa has accused Nduwimana in recent months of targeting and dividing opposition parties, including Rwasa’s own unrecognized FNL.

Rwasa received votes from the ruling CNDD-FDD legislators, as his coalition Hope for Burundians with a total 30 deputies out of 121 had 21 deputies out of 112 in the Thursday session.

Agathon Rwasa was elected to the post with 108 votes out of 112, prompting speculation that a deal had been struck prior to Thursday’s voting.

Although he did urge his members to the streets during recent anti-President Pierre Nkurunziza-3rd term protests, Agathon Rwasa supported the protests in his public addresses and has withdrawn from and rejected the electoral process, alleging the environment was not conducive for free and fair elections.

Despite the fact that he withdrew from parliamentary and presidential polls his coalition came second in both.

Previously Agathon Rwasa announced he would not recognize the results, but surprisingly reported to the first parliamentary session on Monday, saying it was logical to be part of the people’s parliament.

“We have come to parliament because we have got the trust of the people, we are representing the people who want their voice to be heard,” Agathon Rwasa told the press on Monday.

His decision to join parliament has drawn harsh criticism from other opposition figures and on social media.

Critics argue he has betrayed the opposition’s cause and accuse him of looking out for his personal interests.

Rwasa’s colleague within Hope for Burundians Coalition, Charles Nditije, the leader of the Uprona wing, insists he cannot sit in parliament as he does not recognize recent legislative and presidential polls.

Meanwhile the constitutional court has validated results of the July 21 presidential poll paving way President Nkurunziza’s controversial third term mandate.