The Government of Burundi has remained evasive over a demand by the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State Summit that called for the postponement of presidential elections in the troubled country.
The tiny central African country was scheduled to hold presidential elections on June 26, but political twists there including President Pierre Nkurunziza’s attempts at securing a ‘third term’ led to sporadic violence and a temporary coup was staged on May 13 by disgruntled military and police officers led by a former intelligence chief, Maj Gen Godefroid Niyombare. The coup was staged while President Nkurunziza in Dar es Salaam was attending the first EAC meeting on Burundi, but could only hold for a day, as a ‘triumphant’ Nkurunziza returned home from Tanzania on May 14.
This time the President didn’t make the trip to Dar es Salaam for the second meeting two days ago, but the EAC leaders present implored the Burundi government to postpone the elections by at least ‘one and a half months’ to allow for calm to return to the country of 10.1 million people.
Now, media reports have indicated that Deputy Presidential Spokesman Gervais Abayeho as saying the proposal by the Heads of State would be considered alongside the Constitution, which demands that an elected president must be sworn in by August 26, and the different opinions given by other stakeholders including the Burundi Electoral Commission and political parties in the country.
It is this non-committal position that is puzzling many, with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance in East Africa (UNOCHA-EA) saying in a Flash Update that “The Government of Burundi has indicated it is favourable to this request.”
Burundi erupted into violence during the past three months after President Nkurunziza indicated he would participate as a presidential candidate for the ruling CNDD-FDD party, a position that was contested by the country’s opposition and political activists as contravening the Constitution, which sets term limits for president at two, five year terms.