Burundi could scrap presidential term limits

Wednesday August 24 2016

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza. PHOTO | REUTERS

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza. PHOTO | REUTERS 

A debate on whether to scrap Presidential term limits in Burundi is set to kick off after a commission formed last year to chart the country’s political future said it was ready to present its findings to Parliament.

Inter-Burundi Dialogue Commission chairman Justin Nzoyisaba said views it collected from across the country favoured removal of the two-term limit for the President.

“More than two means that people said that they have to remove the term limits. It means that the president can go for as many terms as he wants if elected by the people,” said the inter-Burundi dialogue commission chair Justin Nzoyisaba.

Mr Nzoyisaba said this would necessitate a review of the Arusha Accord and the country’s constitution which prohibit a President running for a third term in office. 

Relative calm

Burundi is just returning to relative calm after a political crisis set off by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term in office.

He went on and won after the country’s highest court said his first term in office was not by universal suffrage but by a consensus of parliamentarians under the Arusha Accord of 2005 that was meant to end the country’s civil war.  

The Inter-Burundi Dialogue Commission was in the run up to the May 2015 election with a mandate to seek views from all Burundians on how to secure lasting political stability in the country.

Mr Nzoyisaba also said the public supported an all-inclusive government. 

 “I can’t specifically say what the Burundians said but I can note that they raised their concerns on the quotas of 60 per cent Hutu and 40 per cent Tutsi which disregards the twa ethnic (group),” he said.

The Inter-Burundi dialogue commission will submit the report to Parliament for approval with the final decision being made by President of Nkurunziza. The Inter-Burundi dialogue commission consists of 15 members and includes 3 religious leaders, 3 political actors and 2 civil society representatives.