The government of the Republic of Congo has called a referendum October 25 on a proposed constitutional amendment to allow President Denis Sassou Nguesso to run for a third term. The proposed amendment, announced Monday after a cabinet meeting, also would abolish an upper age limit of 70 for presidential candidates. President Sassou Nguesso is 72 and is barred by the current constitution from seeking another term. Last month, the president announced he was planning the referendum, a move that brought thousands of people out to demonstrate in the capital, Brazzaville.
A United Nations observer mission said Monday that last week’s presidential elections in Burundi were relatively peaceful but had not been “an inclusive free and credible” vote. Separately, the 15 UN Security Council members plan to hold consultations on the crisis Tuesday. In a preliminary report, UN observers said Thursday’s vote, which saw President Pierre Nkurunziza re-elected, was marred by violence and obstacles to freedom of expression and the press.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Burundi’s election this week “deeply flawed” and urged President Pierre Nkurunziza to hold a “meaningful, serious” dialogue with the African country’s opposition, the State Department said. Nkurunziza won a third term in Tuesday’s election, which was boycotted by the opposition. Rivals accused him of violating the constitution by running for another five years in office. The election commission said on Friday that the president, who cited a court ruling saying he could run again, had secured 73 percent of the vote. Nkurunziza’s re-election bid has plunged Burundi into its biggest crisis since an ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005. Dozens of people have been killed in weeks of protests and more than 170,000 have fled to refugee camps in neighboring states.
Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza won a third term in office on Friday after the opposition boycotted the vote, a victory that leaves the east African nation politically divided and facing international isolation after months of unrest. Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term plunged Burundi into its biggest crisis since an ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005. The opposition says Nkurunziza’s bid violated the constitution and could spark another conflict. Major donors United States and the European Union, both critical of Nkurunziza, have threatened measures from cutting aid to imposing sanctions after Burundi went ahead with an election they said could not be free or fair.
The European Union is ready to impose sanctions on Burundians failing to help end the Central African nation’s crisis, the EU’s foreign policy chief said on Thursday, following elections that Brussels and Washington say were not credible. Facing its worst political crisis since the end of civil war in 2005, Burundi is awaiting the results of Tuesday’s vote in which President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third term, breaking the two-term limit agreed in a peace deal a decade ago. “The European Union is preparing … to adopt, if necessary, targeted restrictive measures against those whose actions led to acts of violence, repression and serious human rights abuses or hinder the search for a political solution,” Mogherini said in a statement.
Votes were being counted Wednesday in Burundi, a day after a controversial presidential election was marred by pre-election violence that has led thousands of people to flee the country over the past few months. Results from the polls, which were condemned as illegitimate by the international community, are expected Thursday. The presidential election Tuesday is believed to have had low turnout, as President Pierre Nkurunziza ran without significant opposition for a third term. But electoral commission head Pierre-Claver Ndayicariye told The Associated Press Wednesday that between 72 and 80 percent of Burundi’s 3.8 million voters cast their ballots.
Burundi’s long-delayed presidential poll proceeded on Tuesday despite a night of gunfire and explosions in the capital and international appeals to President Pierre Nkurunziza to postpone it. Bloody street protests, a refugee exodus and a failed coup attempt have roiled this tiny central African nation since Mr. Nkurunziza announced in April he would seek a third term in office, even though the country’s constitution limits the president to two. The U.S., France and other international powers have urged him to reconsider his bid, and top officials have defected from the government to protest it. On Tuesday, the answer from Mr. Nkurunziza was clear: He wouldn’t back down. As polls opened at 6 a.m., the streets of the capital Bujumbura appeared relatively calm.
Gunfire and explosions could be heard late Monday in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, on the eve of the country’s presidential election. The unrest comes amid tensions over incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial bid for a third term over objections by protesters and opposition politicians, who say he is flouting a constitutional ban. Witnesses in the capital’s northern Ngagara suburb said assailants had shot at police officers, who returned fire, while journalists from French news agency AFP heard three loud explosions and regular bursts of gunfire, though they could not say where the sounds were coming from. Explosions and shots were also heard in Nyakabiga, northeast of Bujumbura, and Kanyosha to the south, according to local residents.
Last-ditch talks between Burundi’s government and opposition aimed at resolving a major political crisis over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial re-election bid appear to be headed for failure, sources close to the negotiations said. The closed-door talks, mediated by regional power Uganda, began earlier in the day but quickly descended into an acrimonious exchange with no sign of any consensus on how to end months of turmoil in the central African nation.
Despite widespread international condemnation, bitter opposition within his own country and the threat of violent revolt, President Pierre Nkurunziza struck a defiant tone at a campaign rally Friday on a mountaintop near where government forces recently battled rebels. “The attempt of armed groups to destabilize the country did not last as long as the morning dew,” he said in his speech in Cibitoke, a province in the northwest near the border with Rwanda, citing the governing party’s victory in parliamentary elections as proof of widespread support, though the opposition boycotted the vote. “The people in all the provinces, all the counties, all the hills and all the fields, went to vote,” he said. “You have done well. And now tell each other what is ahead and that you will have to do even more.”
The chief executive officer of the Forum for Strengthening the Civil Society (FORSC) in Burundi says President Pierre Nkurunziza’s administration has shown bad faith in the ongoing peace talks. Vital Nshimirimana made the comment Thursday after the government issued a statement saying the presidential election will proceed on the July 21 rescheduled date, despite the peace negotiations. Regional leaders recently chose Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to help the Burundians resolve the crisis that has forced more than 140,000 to flee to neighboring countries.
The Burundian government and political opposition groups are committed to resolving the disputes that have flared into violence, with a less than week left before a presidential vote that sparked the unrest, a mediator said. Discussions between the groups, which have included civil society activists, opposition parties and three former presidents, are making progress and they aim to report back with proposals as soon as possible, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday. Museveni, who was picked by the five-nation East African Community to mediate an end to the political crisis, led efforts for two days in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, and his defense minister, Crispus Kiyonga, will arrive on Thursday to take over that role.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni arrived in Burundi on Tuesday for crisis talks, as President Pierre Nkurunziza readied for a third term bid in polls next week following months of violence. Museveni, appointed mediator last week by the five-nation East African Community (EAC), arrived by road via Rwanda to push stalled talks between Nkurunziza’s ruling CNDD-FDD party and opposition groups. The veteran Ugandan leader, who first flew to Rwanda for meetings there before entering Burundi escorted by Ugandan armoured vehicles, said in a statement he would “establish a dialogue among warring political factions.” But with the presidential elections now scheduled for July 21, Museveni has been left with only a few days to succeed.
Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza may find an election victory he is assured of this month swiftly overshadowed by the emergence of an armed insurgency in a nation at the heart of one of Africa’s most combustible regions. After weeks of protests against the president’s bid for a third term, a general involved in a failed coup says he is mobilizing troops, grenade attacks echo round the capital and armed clashes have erupted in the north of a nation still scarred by civil war. “We are heading for trouble,” said one senior Western diplomat, warning of a “slide back into a low-level conflict” after ethnically charged fighting ended just a decade ago. Opponents say another five-year term is unconstitutional and are boycotting the July 21 vote, thereby assuring Nkurunziza of victory. Western donors and African neighbors have urged him to step aside. Yet the rebel-turned-president has shrugged off the pressure, citing a court ruling saying he can run again.
Burundi’s presidential election has been postponed until 21 July, a presidential spokesman said on Saturday. The announcement came after African leaders urged a delay to try to stem escalating violence in a nation that emerged from civil war only a decade ago. Soldiers and unidentified gunmen clashed on Friday in Kayanza province, near the border with Rwanda. The governor of Kayanza, Canesius Ndayimanisha, said the gunmen had crossed from Rwanda, a charge denied by Kigali but which will fan fears of a wider conflict. Burundi’s army and the government in Bujumbura had no comment on the latest clashes, in which the governor said two soldiers and two gunmen had been hurt. “The situation is now under control,” Ndayimanisha said.
A senior U.N. official is warning progress in Burundi is in danger of slipping away as President Pierre Nkurunziza presses ahead with controversial plans to seek a third term. U.N. Deputy Political Chief Taye-Brook Zerihoun told the Security Council the security situation in Burundi has been tense and volatile since legislative and communal elections were held on June 29. Opposition parties boycotted that vote and are calling for Nkurunziza not to run for a third term, which they say is unconstitutional. “Burundi is on the brink again.The grave danger the country faces should not be underestimated, given the increasing polarization and the apparent choice of Burundian leaders to put personal interests before those of the country,” he said.
The ruling party of Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has swept to an expected overwhelming victory in controversial parliament elections that were boycotted by the opposition, according to official results released Tuesday. The opposition had argued that weeks of protests and a violent crackdown by security forces meant free and fair elections were impossible, and the United Nations said voting took place amid “a climate of widespread fear and intimidation”. The country has also been left without most of its independent media outlets, after several radio stations were attacked and destroyed in fighting during an attempted coup against Nkurunziza in May.
Burundi on Sunday rejected a second UN diplomat named to help resolve the country’s political crisis, saying a critical UN report on last week’s parliamentary elections was biased. The tiny east African country plunged into turmoil in late April when protests erupted in response to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term. The opposition boycotted the June 29 parliamentary election and says it will boycott the July 15 presidential vote.
Elections in Burundi that were racked by violence and boycotted by the opposition were not free or credible, United Nations observers said on Thursday, after clashes left six dead in the capital. Parliamentary and local elections were held on Monday despite an appeal by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, for a postponement after months of turmoil. The UN electoral observer mission said in a report that the elections took place “in a tense political crisis and a climate of widespread fear and intimidation in parts of the country”. “Episodes of violence and explosions preceded and in some cases accompanied election day activities, mostly in Bujumbura,” said the nine-page report. The mission concluded “that the environment was not conducive for free, credible and inclusive elections”.
Wednesday’s clashes took place in the city’s Cibitoke district, a center of opposition protest against President Pierre Nkurunziza and his disputed bid for a third term on July 15. Police said five of those killed Wednesday were “criminals.” Residents said police shot persons who had “their hands in the air” during house-to-house searches. Polices spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said “many, many” guns and grenades had been seized. Four other people had been arrested.
Burundians voted for a new parliament on Monday after a night of sporadic blasts and gunshots and weeks of violent protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s attempt to win a third term in office. Voting appeared slow in several districts for an election boycotted by the opposition and condemned by the international community as lacking the conditions to ensure it was fair. “We don’t see many people,” one diplomat said. The European Union, a major donor to the aid-reliant country, threatened on Monday to withhold more funds after Burundi ignored U.N. and African calls for a postponement of the parliamentary vote and a presidential election on July 15. In Washington, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said there were “woefully inadequate conditions for free and fair elections” in Burundi and said the United States was “deeply disappointed” in the decision to go ahead with the vote.
Burundians are voting Monday in parliamentary elections marked by an opposition boycott and violence as police battle anti-government protesters in the capital. In the Musaga neighborhood, which has seen violent protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, few civilians were seen at the polls as mostly police and soldiers lined up to vote. The voting is taking place despite calls by the international community for a postponement until there is a peaceful environment for credible elections. The African Union said on Sunday that it would not observe the polls because the necessary conditions have not been met for free and fair elections. The European Union said Burundi’s decision to ignore U.N. and other international demands to delay voting further was a “serious matter” and could lead to withholding more aid.
One of Burundi’s vice presidents has fled to Belgium, saying he had been threatened after denouncing President Pierre Nkurunziza’s quest for a third term in office, in remarks the government dismissed. Gervais Rufyikiri, who held the post of second vice president, is the latest senior official to flee in recent weeks, as Nkurunziza’s bid for what opponents say is an unconstitutional third term has plunged Burundi into its worst crisis since an ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005. In May, the vice president of Burundi’s election commission and a senior judge fled amid protests demanding Nkurunziza stand down. He has refused to change tack, citing a court ruling that found he was allowed to seek another term.
Four people have been killed and 30 wounded in a wave of grenade attacks overnight in Burundi, police say, a week before parliamentary elections. A single attack on a bar in Ngozi, the hometown of President Pierre Nkurunziza, accounted for the majority of the victims. Police blamed the attacks on opposition supporters and said three suspects had been arrested. Violent protests began in April against the president’s third-term bid.
Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza swore in two new members of the National Independent Electoral Commission, a month before he seeks a third term. Annonciate Niyonkuru was appointed vice president of the electoral body, while Alice Nijimbere will become a commissioner for finance, according to a statement published on the president’s website. They replace Spes Caritas Ndironkeye and Illuminata Ndabahagamye, who resigned earlier this month, according to the statement.
The African Union has called for a postponement of Burundi’s July 15 presidential election, saying a new date should be decided through negotiations between the government and opposition. Erastus Mwencha, deputy chairperson of the African Union commission, said the proposed date is based on information the AU gathered through consultation with all stakeholders, including a report from leaders of the East African community. The election date, originally June 26, was changed by presidential decree following an electoral commission proposal. Violent protests in Burundi have taken place since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term, a move the president’s critics say would violate a two-term limit in the constitution. Nkurunziza’s supporters argue he is eligible to run again because he was appointed by lawmakers to his first term in office, and not elected by a popular vote.
Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza Tuesday swore in two new members of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI). Annonciate Niyonkuru and Alice Nijimbere replace Spes-Caritas Ndironkeye and Illuminata Ndabahagamye, who resigned earlier this month. The two new members took their oath before the Burundian president in the presence of both chambers of the parliament and diplomats accredited to Burundi.
Burundi: Opposition cautiously welcomes African Union recommendations | International Business Times
The African Union’s new recommendations regarding the crisis in Burundi have been cautiously welcomed by the opposition, which claims they somewhat failed to address the issue of the third mandate. It is estimated between 60 and 70 have died and around 150,000 civilians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries since the start of the violence on 26 April, when Burundi’s ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party nominated President Pierre Nkurunziza to stand for re-election. Opposition leaders want the president to withdraw his third-term bid, claiming it violates the country’s constitution and the Arusha Accords, a peace deal that ended ethnic civil war and established the foundation for Burundi’s post-conflict recovery in 2005.
Burundi: Election commission appoints President Nkurunziza′s followers to top positions | Deutsche Welle
Burundi’s opposition on Saturday slammed the CENI election commission for deliberately steering the country towards a controversial presidential vote next month, branding it a tool of President Pierre Nkurunziza and his ruling party. The rushed appointment of two new members to the CENI commission was “a government-orchestrated sham to put in place a CENI totally subservient to Nkurunziza and his party”, said Jeremie Minani, spokesman for the Arusha Movement, a coalition of opposition and civil society groups. The criticism came after the upper and lower houses of parliament – both dominated by the ruling CNDD-FDD party – overwhelmingly approved the two new election commissioners earlier in the week. Annonciate Niyonkuru and Alice Nijimbere, both 38-year-old women from the Tutsi ethnic minority, took up their posts immediately after their appointments were approved by 81 votes to one in the National Assembly and by 31 to two in the country’s Senate.
A group of 17 political parties have agreed to boycott elections in Burundi because they don’t believe they will be free and fair, an opposition leader said Thursday. The opposition groups are also opposed to the current electoral commission because it isn’t complete after two of its five members fled, said Frederic Bamvuginyumvira, deputy head of a party known by its initials as FRODEBU. Burundi has been rocked by unrest since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his plans to run for a third term, which many see as unconstitutional even though the nation’s constitutional court has ruled in the president’s favor.