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The East African : Jun 28th 2015
10 HOW LEGITIMATE IS THE PROCESS? The EastAfrican NEWS JUNE 27 - JULY 3, 2015 Second VP defects, flees to Belgium By TREVOR ANALO The EastAfrican RUMOURS OF another revolt from within President Pierre Nkurunziza’s regime reached a crescendo on Thursday when Second Vice-President Gervais Rufyikiri announced from Belgium that he had defected — a move that could pose a threat to his hold to power. The vice-president, President Pierre Nkurunziza’s supporters at the official start of the 2015 electoral campaign. Opposition leaders said they will boycott the elections. Picture: AFP Burundi govt, opposition clash over local, parliamentary polls Seve≥al fo≥eign govts will not send in obse≥vation missions until conditions fo≥ f≥ee and fai≥ elections a≥e met A JOINT REPORT The EastAfrican T he politics of electoral brinkmanship are once again playing out in Burundi, with both the ruling party and some opposition parties stoking violence ahead of Monday’s local and parliamentary polls. On Friday, some leading opposition leaders declared a boycott of the polls, but President Pierre Nkurunziza is determined to hold the elections, even at the expense of the legitimacy of the process. “All the opposition parties have unanimously decided to boycott the elections,” a letter signed by opposition leaders read. Several foreign govern- ments, including the EU, have decided not to send in observation missions until conditions for free and fair elections are met, which the government said goes against “the spirit of partnership.” Burundi previously wit- nessed an election boycott in 2010, which created a farcical situation where the ruling party and its allies swept almost all parliamentary seats and President Nkurunziza was re-elected without any contest. Attempts by foreign diplo- mats, the African Union and the East African Community to persuade both sides to soften their hardening positions have failed, and after the elections on Monday, there are fears the government may no longer be interested in the UN-led talks, which only resumed mid-last week. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called on Bujumbura to postpone the elections, saying “the Burundian authority should highly consider the proposals by the AU and EAC on postponing the elections.” “The decision by the gov- ernment to boycott the talks and to label those in negotiations as among the coup plotters is strange,” said Agathon Rwasa, the country’s main opposition leader. Government spokesman Filipe Nzobonariba said, “The Burundian government postponed the elections to a later date as urged by the East African Heads of State Summit but there is no intention to postpone the polls as the AU recommends.” The environment is not conducive for free, transparent, inclusive and credible elections.” Mr Rwasa, opposition leader Thierry Vircoulon, a Cen- tral Africa analyst with the International Crisis Group, told The EastAfrican that a “boycott is valid given the circumstances,” adding, “The difference between 2015 and 2010 is that the opposition now have a legitimate reason to boycott the elections: Security has deteriorated, they have not been given space to campaign and their members are harassed and arrested by the police.” Mr Rwasa told The Eas- tAfrican they cannot go into elections with the level of political intimidation in the country. “There is an ongoing manhunt for our followers. We intended to participate in a free and fair election not one in which the electoral commission already knows who the winners will be,” he said. Burundi’s opposition lead- ers wrote a letter to the country’s Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), saying “The environment is not conducive for free, transparent, inclusive and credible elections.” However, as the 2010 elec- tions showed, boycotting the polls may achieve little, only perhaps rendering them procedurally flawed, because the ruling party and its allies will still contest and be legally declared winners. Some opposition parties with links to the CNDD-FDD have announced they will participate in the Monday polls. The ruling party CNDD- PREVIOUSLY Burundi previously witnessed an election boycott in 2010, which created a farcical situation where the ruling party and its allies swept almost all parliamentary seats and President Nkurunziza got re-elected without any contest. However, boycotting the polls may achieve little, only perhaps rendering them procedurally flawed, because the ruling party and its allies will still contest and be legally declared winners. FDD has the support of a small coalition of parties such as Uprona, COPA and FNL, all of whom have insignificant parliamentary representation, but will give the elections an aura of legitimacy and competition. Authorities in Bujumbura argue that postponing the polls may trigger a constitutional crisis as the country must have a new president by August 26. Grenade attacks continue to rock the capital, leaving scores injured. Last week on Sunday in Ngozi province — President Nkurunzinza’s home town — four people were killed after a grenade was detonated in a bar. More than 70 people have been killed and more than 150,000 displaced since protests broke out in April. By Moses Havyarimana and Trevor Analo considered one of the last remaining moderates in the ruling party, had been sidelined by President Nkurunziza’s circle since March for opposing the president’s third term bid during a meeting of the CNDD-FDD council of elders. Mr Rufyikiri, who holds Belgian citizenship, fled to Belgium from where he declared that he no longer supports President Nkurunziza and his party. “The country is at great risk of collapsing and all partners withdrew and suspended their projects and funds due to your decision, you didn’t want to listen to what your fellow CNDDFDD members advised you, instead expelling them from the party,” he said in his statement. Analysts said the defec- tion of such a senior official is a big blow to President Nkurunziza, who is fast losing key members to the movement opposed to his third-term bid. It could also potentially plunge the country into a constitutional crisis and badly damage the president’s already sour relations with donors. Mr Rufyikiri’s defection does bring constitutional problems for President Nkurunziza, who by law is required to share executive power with his two vicepresidents. With the second vice- president out of office, the president cannot fully exercise executive powers — unless he appoints a new one, which would require recalling MPs and Senators who have to defend their seats on Monday. According to article 107 of the country’s Constitution, the president can only issue decrees countersigned by the vice-presidents. Except for ceremonial functions such as promulgating the Constitution or declaring wars, almost all major decisions must be arrived at through consensus between the president and his two vice-presidents, including appointing ministers or enacting new legislation or a policy instrument. Vice-President Gervais Rufyikiri. Picture: File Article 122 of Burundi’s Constitution delineates duties between the two vice presidents, giving the first vice president “the co-ordination of the political and administrative domain” and the second vice president “the co-ordination of the economic and social domain.” A source in Burundi familiar with the political actors who requested anonymity said, “It is quite possible the second vice “You didn’t want to listen to what your fellow CNDD-FDD members advised you,” Mr Rufyikiri president fled because he saw no future for himself in the current political line-up in the ruling party.” The vice president an- nounced his defection just hours before President of the National Assembly, Pie Ntavyohanyuma, left the country for Belgium on Wednesday night. But authorities in Bu- jumbura have been quick to downplay rumours that he has also defected, saying he is out of the country for medical reasons, even as unconfirmed reports say that a former vice president and Member of Parliament Bernard Busokoza also fled the country on Wednesday night through the Gasenyi border into neighbouring Rwanda. In April, Mr Ntavyohany- uma fell out of favour with the ruling party’s officials, almost getting impeached by CNDD-FDD for openly opposing President Nkurunzinza’s bid for another term. The attempt hit a snag after the party failed to marshal 39 out of 71 votes required to remove the president of the national assembly.
Jun 21st 2015
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