Burundi’s Constitutional Court has validated the victory of the “yes” vote in the referendum on extending the president’s term of office.
Burundians voted overwhelmingly in favour of the extension with 73.24% saying “yes” while the “no” vote received 19.37%.
Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza is now set to appoint a new cabinet. The new constitution stipulates there will be only one vice president who is supposed to be of a different ethnic background from the president. The new Constitution also provides for a Prime Minister who will be responsible for the cabinet.
Commenting on the opposition coalition known as Amozero y’Abarundi (Hope of Burundians), the President of the Constitutional Court, Charles Ndagijimana, said that the file from the opposition group which was campaigning against the Constitutional change was not solid enough to change the results.
Nkurunziza is expected to sign into law the new Constitution as soon as possible, and this may be followed by a cabinet reshuffle to appoint his Prime Minister and vice president.
Under the new Constitution, Nkurunziza will be allowed to run for re-election for two consecutive seven-year mandates from the 2020 elections and would stay on as President until 2034.
Burundi independent coalition MP leader Pierre Celestin Ndikumana said they were saddened by the ruling. The opposition had asked the Court to
nullify the vote.
Burundi’s exiled opposition said last weekend that it was planning a strong challenge against the Government as the vote blocked East African Community backed peace talks between the Burundian stakeholders.
The Government says that while it would attend east African backed peace talks, it is not ready for a unity or transitional government.
Under the new Constitution, the independent coalition will not participate in the running of the country. Five Ministers had come from the independent coalition led by former rebel Agathon Rwasa, although they will no longer have a presence in cabinet.