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  • Writer's pictureOrina Ontiri

Burundi President should stop his greed for power and obey the rule of law

Burundi, a small, poor and landlocked country in the Great Lakes Region is on the verge of “boiling-over.” Reason, President Pierre Nkurunziza won’t give up his thirst for more time in power.  Having led his country out of a 12-year bloodshed in which more than 300,000 people died ten years ago, he now thinks he can bypass the constitution – which he swore to uphold when he took over the presidency – how duplicitous is that!

President Pierre Nkurunziza Photo: courtesy

First, Burundi just like any other country has a constitution. As it is, the constitution says the president will go for a two – five – year term. While he has been in power for 10 years, his cronies say the first five years do not count as he was elected for that term by parliament, not popular vote! Really?

I think just like one famous football manager; Jose Mourinho who doesn’t care how much possession his team gets but the final end result, the Burundian public too doesn’t appear to want to know whether president Nkurunziza was elected through popular vote in his first term or whether he was nominated by parliament – a term is a term so they argue.

Blocking social media, suspending radio stations and banning of protests just shows how low the Burundian public has been forced to stoop in trying to “cool down” the state of affairs. These, plus the closing down of the main university in the country citing “insecurity” might plunge the country deeper into bedlam as the population will feel deprived of their freedom of speech.

Being the born-again Christian he is, I expected president Nkurunziza to respect the law of his much-loved country; but what does he do instead? He goes totally against the constitution…I am distraught! Apparently, according to local media in Burundi, he is popular with the rural dwellers; that is a bonus for him for he seems to have shown the leadership persona the rural citizens of Burundi needed. But truth be told, most rural dwellers in Africa are always illiterate and so they would trust “anything” the government propels their way – be it mild or violent; they would take it – since they are not well informed about governance.

In president Nkurunziza’s term, Burundi has seen relative calm and economic growth since he ascended to power and if he wants his country to remain peaceful as it has been, he should respect the constitution or seek an approval from the Burundian legislative body to ratify it instead of the unorthodox approach he wants to use. I think the Burundians have their fate in their hands even though stories reported by the media houses yet to be shut (most private media houses have been shut down already) are sending a signal of confusion and outrage from most of the population.

It is still up to the Burundians to choose who is eligible and who is not eligible to be elected as their president. The EAC as the most immediate regional body should do whatever it can to help solve this contentious issue but first; the Burundians must try solving it on their own but whoever wins the June elections will have an uphill task of forging national unity in this already divided African nation – that’s for sure.-U Report

Global Radio Network

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