US calls on Nkurunziza to drop “unconstitutional” third term bid

PRESSURE PILING ON: President Pierre Nkurunziza candidancy is facing increasing local, regional and international pressure

PRESSURE PILING ON: President Pierre Nkurunziza’s candidancy is facing increasing local, regional and international pressure

There’s growing calls and increasing local and international pressure on President Pierre Nkurunziza to renounce his third term candidacy in the forthcoming general election.

The United States government through its Embassy in Bujumbura is calling upon President Nkurunziza to “reconsider his bid to retain power at the expense of the Arusha Peace Agreement and Burundi’s hard-earned stability after a tragic civil war”

In a Statement released Monday, the US government says “the Arusha Peace Agreement must be respected and that any violation of the Agreement seriously undermines Burundi’s stability.”

President Nkurunziza and his supporters maintain his third term bid is legal and constitutional because he was elected by parliament for his first term in 2005. The Arusha Agreement says the president is eligible to two five-year terms. And the Burundian Constitution stipulates the president shall be elected by the population to two five-year terms.

The ruling party CNDD-FDD decision in April to put forth president Nkurunziza, as their flag bearer in the next election triggered popular protests. The protestors have vowed to march until the president changes his mind and retires at the end of his second term. He has been in office since 2005.

The United States also joins numerous voices calling for the postponement of the forthcoming elections saying “The conditions for free, fair, transparent and credible elections do not currently exist due to the closure of political space, shutting down of independent media, the government’s violent response to political protests, and continuing reports of violence and intimidation by an armed youth militia of the ruling party.”

Growing appeals to reschedule the June 26 election notwithstanding, the Burundian government, President Nkurunziza, and the country’s National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) remain adamant the electoral calendar will be duly observed.

Major donor to the electoral process have pulled their support until the election is moved but still the government remains defiant. The Burundian Presidency has urged the public to reach make financial contributions to the electoral process.

The government has also indicated it will redirect funds that had been allocated to several key ministries to the electoral process to make up for what the donor are withdrawing.

The US goes on to urge all stakeholders in the Burundi crisis including regional partners to exercise restraint by supporting ongoing peaceful efforts geared to find a solution to the conflict.

EAC leaders have called on the Bujumbura government to postpone elections, and disarm Imbonerakure, the youth militia supporting the ruling CNDD-FDD. This militia has been harassing and attacking protestors and whoever is against Nkurunziza’s third term bid.