Burundi welcomes opposition exiles for next year’s election

Sunday August 18 2019

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza in a past political campaign. The Burundian government is calling on opposition members in exile to return home and take part in the 2020 general elections. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The Burundian government is now calling on opposition members in exile to return home and take part in the 2020 general elections.

This offer is one of the moves by President Pierre Nkurunziza's administration and the ruling party to seek political stability ahead of the elections, amid accusations of exclusion, and come after the June 7, 2018 announcement by the president that he will not contest after his controversial term ends in 2020.

Vice-President Gaston Sindimwo told The EastAfrican in Bujumbura that the opposition was welcome to participate in a fair contest.

“If they want to get power why are they outside the country? They should come and play the politics on the ground,” he said.

Mr Sindimwo’s was a reaction to an announcement by members of the National Council for Respect of the Arusha Agreement (CNARED), an alliance of opposition leaders outside the country, of their intentions to return home.

“In politics we have to adapt to the times while favouring the most peaceful solutions that are also the most reliable and durable,” Onésime Nduwimana, CNARED spokesman told The EastAfrican.


The alliance was formed by opposition members who fled the country following the 2015 political crisis, when President Nkurunziza vied for a controversial third term.


CNARED’s move is a step forward considering that the government boycotted the last round of the Benjamin Mkapa-mediation last year under the auspices of the East African Community.

CNARED blamed the failure on Bujumbura's preconditions that the opposition omits representatives with pending warrants of arrest. Nothing has changed even with CNRED's latest announcement since at least 34 individuals, some members of CNARED, civil society leaders and journalists have pending arrest warrants issued after the May 2015 coup attempt.

However, First Vice-President Sindimwo insists that; “If they have cases in the Justice department they have to go take that up with the Justice department. That is not a political problem although we are doing everything possible to better the political environment.”