Burundi’s opposition FRODEBU Nyakuri party said it will not take part in the country’s July 21 presidential election.
A decree signed by President Pierre Nkurunziza moved the election from July 15 to 21 at the request of East African Community (EAC) leaders.
But FRODEBU Vice President Frederic Bamvuginyumvira said one week is not enough to repatriate tens of thousands of refugees who have fled the country, re-instate independent media, and allow exiled politicians to return in time to take part in the election.
But, Bamvuginyumvira said his party will take part in the mediation efforts of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, appointed a week ago by the EAC to facilitate a dialogue between the government and opposition. He said the opposition wants to remind Museveni of his role in the making of the Arusha Agreement ending Burundi’s civil war.
“It is understandable to postpone election for one week. It is not possible during one week to solve a problem of arms which are disseminated in the country. The second problem is that we have to repatriate Burundians who fled Burundi to surrounding countries. The third problem is that we have some political leaders who are today outside of our country,” he said.
Bamvuginyumvira said FRODEBU will not take part in the election claiming the independent media, through which the opposition can make its case to the voters has been destroyed and some of its owners forced to flee.
“We do not have private media to give Burundians the same information that is given by the public media. So, if we want to balance information, we need both private media and public media. This is a problem which cannot be solved in six days,” Bamvuginyumvira said.
But Bamvuginyumvira said his party will take part in Museveni’s mediation efforts. He said, even though the Ugandan leader has been running his country for 29 years, the FRODEBU wants to take part to remind the Ugandan leader about the 2006 Arusha accord.
“What we know as Burundians is that President Yoweri Museveni attended the meeting where we discussed the Arusha Peace Accord and reconciliation. We will be there to remind him that, ‘Mr. President, you know you have been to Arusha to discuss among Burundians. You remember you advised us to have reconciliation between the Hutus and the Tutsis, and you said Hutus should participate in the government,’” he said.
Nkurunziza’s decision to stand for a third consecutive five-year term has sparked months of violent protests because the opposition said a third term is a violation of the Arusha peace accord.
Mamvuginyumvira dismissed government claims that some of the violence has been perpetrated by opposition supporters. Instead, he said, the ruling CNDD-FDD youth wing, known as Imbonerakure, is responsible for most of the violence.
“We have never been behind the violence because, when we have demonstrations in Bujumbura, everybody knows that they [are] only peaceful demonstrations. We know who (is) behind the violence. We have young people from ruling party – CNDD-FDD -- who are behind the violence because they have guns, they have all the means to make violence,” he said.