By Calvin Osiemo
The Constitutional Court in Burundi has given a go ahead to President Pierre Nkurunzinza’s bid to run for office for a third term. The Court on Tuesday approved Nkurunzinza’s bid amid protests in the capital Bujumbura opposing the move. Pierre’s decision to run for the presidency for the third term in a row ahead of the June 26 elections has drawn Burundi into a serious political crisis that has forced many residents to flee the country. He is vying under the ticket of the ruling CNDD-FDD party
Judge Sylvere Nimpagaritse, the Vice President of the Constitutional court, fled from Burundi to Rwanda on Monday alongside three other judges before signing the approval. Nimpagaritse said the judges had been under enormous pressure and even received death threats from senior government officials to approve the disputed candidature of Nkurunzinza. According to Judge Nimpagaritse, a majority of the judges did not agree with Nkurunzinza candidacy as it would be unconstitutional.
Frodebu –Nyakuri Party leader Jean Minani has said that the protests will not stop unless Nkurunzinza backs down from the race to run for office again.
“We don’t care about the constitutional court decision because we know this court is manipulated,” said Minani.
Following the court ruling, Burundi’s Vice President Prosper Bazombanza has announced the release of hundreds of protesters and pledged to reopen the closed down independent radio station on condition that the protestors stop the demonstrations. He also offered to lift arrest warrants issued against key civil society leaders.
“To create a climate of appeasement, the government is willing to release the young people who were arrested,” Bazombanza said.
Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said she is concerned about the political crisis in Burundi and called the government to restore calm and order.
“While we respect Burundi’s sovereignty in addressing internal matters, Rwanda considers the safety of innocent population as a regional and international responsibility,” Mushikiwabo said
Since the crisis in Burundi started, over 24,000 people are seeking refuge in Rwanda while and another 7,000 are said to have fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo.