Electoral calendar not up for debate, says Burundian gov’t

Dr.Crispus Kiyonga, Uganda's Defense Minister who is representing Museveni at the talks, and EAC Secretary General Richard Sezibera opening the talks Thursday

Dr.Crispus Kiyonga (L), Uganda’s Defense Minister who is representing Museveni,, and EAC Secretary General Richard Sezibera opening the talks in Bujumbura Thursday

Whether or not next week’s presidential election in Burundi should be postponed is turning out to a sticking point yet again in the ongoing talks to end the crisis in the country.

The government is adamant the July 21 poll will go on as scheduled whereas opposition and civil society are of the view that the electoral calendar and process should be top on the agenda in the talks.

In a press statement released this Thursday evening, the government of Burundi urged Burundians and the international community to respect the sovereignty of the country.

“We would like to inform the public and the international community that no resolution has questioned the country’s sovereignty, the Burundi’s constitution derived from Arusha Peace Agreement and the right for Burundian people to express their will through choosing their leaders, as it is the case in any country in the world” said Philippe Nzobonariba, the government Secretary General who issued the press statement.

The government argues the fact that the facilitator (s), Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni or his Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga, haven’t brought up the issues divisive issues such as the third term bid of President Nkurunziza, the electoral calendar and the June 29 parliamentary elections, is a sign that these issues are no longer a subject of debate.

Calling Burundian people to respond massively to the July 21 presidential polls, Philippe Nzobonariba insisted that the electoral calendar can no longer change and that the ongoing electoral process cannot stop.

The same hard line has been embraced by the governing CNDD-FDD which is requesting international community not to inject itself in the internal politics of the country with the intention of dividing and disrupting the process, the party’s statement reads in part.

Opposition still maintains the recent parliamentary and communal elections were meaningless. Charles Nditije, one of the Hope coalition leaders taking part into the current talks, believes the government will finally understand that the recent and coming elections unilaterally organized cannot be accepted by the Burundian people.

“We hope to convince the government that the recent parliamentary and communal elections as well as the coming presidential polls are null and void, as they have been organized by the ruling party and its satellites, in the ignorance of various recommendations,” said Charles Nditije, who calls the government not to shy away from a thorough dialogue so as to find a durable solution to the current crisis.

President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term, the electoral calendar, and disarmament of the Imbonerakure militia and all armed youths are some of the main hot-button issues in the on and off talks to end the turmoil.

In the course of the current conflict, the Bujumbura government has bowed to opposition and international community pressure to move both communal and parliamentary elections, and presidential.

This Thursday the delegate of the facilitator in the talks, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, his Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga, and the East African Community Secretary General Ambassador Richard Sezibera have opened the dialogue between stakeholders in the conflict.

Yesterday, all parties had indicating the willingness to seriously and sincerely talk to to resolve the crisis that has paralyzed the central African nation since April but this recent development seems to indicate a breakthrough will not be reached any time soon.