Burundi: Arusha Accord must be implemented to avert disaster

Saturday December 6 2014

The greatest tragedy on this continent is that we suffer from acute amnesia.

This could explain why what is happening in Burundi suggests that we have forgotten the events that led to the Arusha Accord of 2000.

The Accord ended a 12-year ethnic-based civil war that saw 300,000 people killed.

Burundi’s current basic law, which dates back to the end of civil war, says the president can serve two directly-elected terms while a separate clause says the first post-war leader will be indirectly elected by lawmakers, as President Pierre Nkurunziza was.

Under the planned changes in the Constitution, the latter clause was to be deleted, allowing the president to run again.

To his credit, President Nkurunziza has not indicated his intention to run for a third term in elections scheduled to begin in May 2015.

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However, his hatchet men have indicated that he will run. The ruling party, the National Council For Defence of Democracy-Forces For Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), said he is eligible to run because he had been elected in 2005 by the National Assembly but not directly by the people.

The party will hold a congress that is expected to decide whether Nkurunziza will run for a third term.
It is crystal clear that the party will do whatever it takes to clinch the top seat.

The question over Nkurunziza’s candidature has topped public debate in Burundi.

The presidents of the East African Community member countries are in tacit approval of Nkurunziza’s third term. According to EAC diplomats, he is eligible, as he will not be violating the letter of the Constitution as per the Arusha Peace Agreement.

Indeed, according to these diplomats, there is no crisis in Burundi ahead of elections as portrayed by the media.

Tragically, the leaders have forgotten the recent events in Burkina Faso, where president Blaise Campaore was forced into exile and parliament building burnt down by protesters after lawmakers tried to extend his 27-year rule.

President Nkurunziza should read the mood of the Burundians and see the exit sign before it is too late for him.

The international community should also do all it takes to ensure that the Arusha Accord is implemented to the letter to avert disaster.

Kimani Wa Njuguna
Gatundu South, Kenya.

Kikwete must sack corrupt ministers to prove his credibility

JAKAYA KIKWETE’S tenure as president comes to an end next year. President Kikwete has many international admirers and has received adulation from the major Western democracies.

As president, Kikwete twice hosted two US presidents – George W. Bush in 2008 and Barack Obama in July 2013. With many branding him the “darling of the West,” Kikwete in March 2013 received the Chinese president Xi Jinping, demonstrating to the world Tanzania’s non-alignment foreign policy.

Although many interpreted the US and Chinese presidents’ visits as competition for Tanzania’s natural resources, it was a diplomatic victory for Tanzania.

Kikwete scooped the Most Impactful Leader in Africa Prize in April 2013 and in July 2014 the Icon of Democracy Award.

With the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Good Governance in Africa failing to get a winner this year, many have predicted that President Kikwete will win it when he retires.

Despite the international accolades, President Kikwete has faced myriad challenges at home. Major corruption scandals have engulfed his presidency.

Parliament recently passed a scathing resolution to have Kikwete’s Cabinet ministers revoked over the Independent Power Tanzania Ltd (IPTL) that has rocked his government.

A government report implicated the Prime Minister in the scandal that resulted in the plunder of more than $120 million from the country’s central bank by private businessmen and government officials.

With PM Mizengo Pinda narrowly escaping the censure, President Kikwete has no choice but to take action on the ministers implicated in the scam and prove that the international accolades were given to him on merit. 

Nicodemus Minde
Arusha, Tanzania.

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