Burundi’s Nkurunziza sued at EAC over third term bid

President Pierre Nkurunziza

President Pierre Nkurunziza

Civil society organisations and activists in East Africa and Burundi have opted to challenge Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term bid by filing suit against the Bujumbura government at the East Africa Court of Justice in Arusha, Tanzania.

Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) and the East African Civil Society Organisation’s Forum (EACSOF) have filed a petition challenging the validity of the country’s constitutional court’s endorsement of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term candidacy in May, arguing that it is unconstitutional and a violation of the 2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement.

The activists say that the court decision to have Nkurunziza run for the third term was reached under great pressure and intimidation of court members and the decision made in the absence of a full house of the constitutional court members.

The organization sighted examples of some of the top Burundian leaders who have fled the country at the time of the contentious court decision, which some of them didn’t support by principal.

Several high profile leaders have fled Burundi in the course of the current conflict; examples include, the Vice President of the Constitutional Court, Mr Sylvere Nimpagaritse, who has fled to Rwanda, followed by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Pie Ntavyohanyuma, 2nd Vice President of the Republic, Mr Gervais Rufyikiri, both of whom have fled to Belgium.

In addition the Vice-President of theNational Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) Ms Spes-Caritas Ndironkeye and the electoral body’s Chief Finance Officer Ms Illuminata Ndabahagamye who have fled to Rwanda.

In a statement, the two bodies questioned the legality of the decision reached by the Constitutional Court of Burundi May 5, 2015 allowing President Nkurunziza to run for a third term.

They also hope that the East African Court will quash the decision of the Constitutional Court of Burundi and the CENI’s decision which allowed Pierre Nkurunziza to run for third term.

“Civil Society Organisations are convinced that the people of Burundi are unhappy with the decision of the Constitutional Court and the President’s bid to run for a third term.” They said in a statement.