Court upholds Nkurunziza's candidacy as Rwanda breaks silence

Tuesday May 05 2015

Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo. PHOTO | FILE

Local media in Bujumbura has reported Tuesday that the Constitutional Court has upheld President Pierre Nkurunziza's nomination as candidate for the ruling CNDD-FDD party in the upcoming election.

This comes after the vice president of the court fled the country Monday saying he refused pressure to rubberstamp his candidacy.

Judge Sylvere Nimpagaritse, who spoke to AFP, said that the court's judges had come under pressure and even threats from senior figures to endorse Nkurunziza's candidature in the upcoming election.

Meanwhile, the Rwandan government has broken ranks with the rest of the East African Community member states and expressed its concern about the on-going political crisis in Burundi.

Two protestors were shot dead on Monday bringing to 10 the number of people killed since street demonstrations broke out over a week ago against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s intended run for a third term in office.

In a statement, the Rwanda government called upon authorities in Burundi “to take immediate necessary steps to ensure the protection of its population, end the worsening humanitarian situation and restore peace”.


More than 25,000 Burundi civilians have fled the violence and across the border into Rwanda. Although authorities in Kigali have opened their borders to them and granted them prima facie refugee status, this is the first time the government is speaking out on the political instability behind the human exodus.

In the statement, Rwanda’s foreign affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo expressed concern about reports, yet to be independently confirmed, that elements of the FDLR, a rebel group based in eastern DR Congo and involved in the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, had been drawn into the protests in Burundi.

While the United Nations, the African Union and western governments have expressed concern and sent delegations to the country to try and resolve the crisis, the East African Community, of which Burundi is a member, has been muted, only calling for dialogue.

Kenya’s foreign affairs ministry, which delivered a donation of 150 laptop computers to Burundi’s electoral commission, said the situation was an internal matter for the country’s authorities to handle.

READ: EAC remains silent on Burundi protests

In her statement, however, Ms Mushikiwabo said: “While we respect Burundi’s sovereignty in addressing internal matters, Rwanda considers the safety of innocent population as a regional and international responsibility”.

Significantly, the minister noted that the statements by the United States and United Kingdom governments urging Burundi to return to peace “are not without merit”.

Both the US and the UK share the view of protestors and opposition politicians that a third term for Mr Nkurunziza would violate the country’s constitution and the Arusha Accord which ended 13 years of civil war in which about 300,000 people were killed.