Burundi: AU says environment not conducive for elections

The African Union has called for Burundi to postpone its elections. The East African country’s due to vote for a new Parliament later this month and for a new president at the end of June.
AU chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
AU chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

The African Union has called for Burundi to postpone its elections.

The East African country’s due to vote for a new Parliament later this month and for a new president at the end of June.

But AU Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma says conditions are not conducive for a vote – given the troubles triggered by president Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term.

Dlamini Zuma was speaking exclusively to CCTV’s Girum Chala in Addis Ababa Ethiopia.

Girum Chala: The AU Commission and you as the chairperson you have warned leaders in Burundi that not respecting the constitution of the nation would have consequences.Those comments have Obiviously been ignored?

NKOSAZANA DLAMINI ZUMA: ”First let me say that the problem in Burundi we have seen it coming.Last year April I have been engaging with Burundi both the Burundi leadership and the leadership of the region.I have had lots of discussions for more than once about the situation because I could see from I seat that there was trouble that is going to brew in Burundi.And that is why I even took the initiative to go even myself. But it was and is very clear that this was going to happen.Because other than the Burundi court all interpretation that we get about the constitution is that the constitution is clear and the Arusha and …there shouldn’t be a third term.

But now we are having a situation where neighboring countries are receiving refugees from Burundi which is what we were trying to avoid.

Girum Chala: As you’re aware, Burundi’s constitutional court has now ruled in favour of the president running again. Do you accept the ruling…?

NKOSAZANA DLAMINI ZUMA : Sometimes legal issues like this need to be looked more broadly not narrowly legally. Whatever the interpretation,what is important is for Burundi to be in peace not the legalities. Because when the situation is like this some countries are saying they have already received 25 thousand refugees others 3 thousand…so they are big numbers of refugees that we are taking about.And what type of election is going to take place under these conditions?As the AU we were planning to send long term observers but we can’t now.We cannot. Because the environment is not conducive for an election.You can’t be going to a country meeting refugees leaving and saying we are gong to observe the elections.As things stand I don’t even see how elections can take place under these conditions.

Girum Chala :Do you think the people of Burundi should accept what the court has decided…?

NKOSAZANA DLAMINI ZUMA :Well i don’t know what the Burundian people think.But until there is peace in Burundi there is no way we can go there for elections.

Girum Chala: After what we’ve seen in Burkina Faso and now Burundi, what are the lessons for other African leaders who are considering extending their stay in power beyond term limits?

NKOSAZANA DLAMINI ZUMA :My view is that if there is a constitution,it should be respected.If there is a need to amend it,there should be consensus across the country about its amendment. It cannot be done unilaterally by one section of the population.

Catch the full interview on Africa Live at 1000 GMT on DStv channel 409, Zuku 567 and Star Times 123.

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