Burundi opposition splits as new parliamentarians report to work

SELLOUT?: Agathon Rwasa in the parliamentary session Monday July 27.

SELLOUT?: Agathon Rwasa in the parliamentary session Monday July 27.

When the first parliamentary session was announced, all eyes were on the opposition coalition Hope for Burundians, to see whether they would attend the session or not, as they had withdrawn from both the June 29 communal and parliamentary, and July 21 presidential elections.

Surprisingly, Agathon Rwasa, the leader of the coalition Hope for Burundians attended the parliament session with 18 other members of the coalition, but Charles Nditije and his 10 fellow members of UPRONA, a party within the coalition did not attend the session. 30 seats have been allotted for the coalition.

“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 the sideline of the session.

Other members of the coalition think Rwasa has betrayed the coalition.

“Rwasa should know better, how can you be part of parliament that is a result of an election you rejected? He is a pure opportunist who is looking up for his own personal interests,” a senior member of the coalition told this website.

Rwasa denies betrayal charges saying “I am not letting down anybody. This is just a judgment that comes from some emotional feelings, let them take time or some few days, I know they will come to a conclusion that they are not betrayed”

He recognizes that the recent presidential and parliamentary elections were not credible but insists being part of parliament will allow him ground to participate in the ongoing dialogue with the government.

“We are not resigning from our claims for democratic governance. We estimate that, we’d better get in and carry on with talks instead of remaining on the sidelines,” Mr. Rwasa said.

First parliamentary session

First parliamentary session

The Coalition Hope for Burundians was formed shortly before the elections by two unrecognized radical parties; the Tutsi-dominated wing of the Uprona party, and the Hutu-dominated FNL.

The coalition along with other opposition parties however, announced their withdrawal from the electoral process alleging the environment was not permissive for a free, fair and credible election.

Disregarding the opposition and regional and international community calls to postpone the elections, the Burundian government organized the elections and the incumbent, President Pierre Nkurunziza and his governing CNDD-FDD have won the controversial third term.

CNDD-FDD’s decision to nominate President Nkurunziza as the flag bearer ignited the ongoing conflict as opposition and civil society argued his run violates the Arusha Peace Agreement and the constitution.