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Burundian Government Open to National Unity Government

  • James Butty

President Pierre Nkurunziza arrives riding a bicycle, accompanied by first lady Denise Bucumi Nkurunziza, right, to cast his vote for the presidential election, in Ngozi, Burundi, July 21, 2015.

President Pierre Nkurunziza arrives riding a bicycle, accompanied by first lady Denise Bucumi Nkurunziza, right, to cast his vote for the presidential election, in Ngozi, Burundi, July 21, 2015.

A Burundian government spokesman said President Pierre Nkurunziza is committed to forming a national unity government after Tuesday’s election results are announced Friday.

The opposition boycotted the poll, arguing Nkurunziza had violated the constitution by seeking a third term.

The constitution provides for two terms by universal suffrage, but the country’s Constitutional Court ruled his first term was not by direct popular vote, making him eligible to run this election.

Bujumbura, Burundi

Bujumbura, Burundi

Willy Nyamitwe, Nkurunziza’s senior adviser on media and communication, said forming a unity government would be in line with the constitution, which took into consideration the causes of Burundi’s bloody civil war, particularly its ethnic divisions.

“People who are calling on the president to form a government of national unity have to know it’s already in our constitution," Nyamitwe said.

"Article 129 of our constitution already suggests that whoever forms the government should make a government of national unity. But, our president, Pierre Nkurunziza, is ready to go further to form a government that can include all the forces of Burundian society,” he said.

Key point in talks

Nyamitwe said forming a national unity government was a key point of discussion in the talks between the government and opposition, mediated by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

He criticized some opposition members whom he said only want to be in government without first going through an election.

Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) announced Wednesday it has started deploying military and human rights observers to Burundi.

The AU said in a statement that the purpose is to “prevent an escalation of violence in Burundi and to facilitate the completion of efforts to resolve the serious crisis.”

The AU also said the military observers will help monitor the “disarmament of militia and other armed groups.”

The ruling CNDD-FDD youth wing, known as Imbonerakure, has been blamed by the opposition of being responsible for pre-election violence.

AU deployment

Nyamitwe said the government welcomes the AU deployment because it will help uncover the truth in terms of who is actually behind the violence.

“They came today, and I think this is a good thing. They can continue working closely with the ministry of foreign affairs in Burundi," he said.

"We do hope people now will know the truth about what has been propagated as the youth who are armed. So, these observers who are coming will help the international community to understand that, in this country, it’s not the ruling party young guys who are armed, but those who are armed are from the opposition,” Nyamitwe said.

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