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Burundi President Ready to Form More Inclusive Government

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza is sworn in for a third term at a ceremony in the parliament in Bujumbura, Burundi, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015.
Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza is sworn in for a third term at a ceremony in the parliament in Bujumbura, Burundi, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015.

Burundi’s foreign minister said President Pierre Nkurunziza is ready to form a more inclusive unity government now that he has been inaugurated for a third term. The opposition has condemned the third term as unconstitutional.

At his unannounced inauguration Thursday, President Nkurunziza said he would review Article 129 of the constitution, which excludes political parties with less than five percent of the national vote in an election from being part of a national unity government.

“The current constitution does not allow parties that have less than five percent to be part of the cabinet. But with that revision, those that have less than five percent will be able to be part of the cabinet, which means basically that after a few months from now there will be a reshuffle of cabinet to incorporate those people,” said Foreign Minister Alain Nyamitwe.

Nyamitwe said the revision would give representation to all Burundians. He also said President Nkurunziza pledged in his inaugural speech to unite all Burundians while at the same time vowing to protect the nation with the help of God.

“The president made a speech today as he was accepting the office of president for the 2015-2020 term in which he also pledged to unite all Burundians but also insisting on issues of security for all as well reconciliation,” he said.

In his inaugural speech, President Nkurunziza described his win in the July 21 election as a victory for all Burundians, even though his controversial third term bid was condemned by the opposition as a violation of the constitution.

Nyamitwe said while those who opposed the election are entitled to their opinions, they cannot impose their views on what he called the “majority of the people” who voted for President Nkurunziza.

Nkurunziza warned his critics, especially those who he said use violence against their own country, that God will scattered them “like flour thrown into the air.”

Foreign Minister Nyamitwe discussed President Nkurunziza's belief in God.

“Our president is a believer, a strong Christian believer, and so am I by the way. So there’s nothing wrong in believing that God will protect our nation. Your nation, the United States of America has as its creed that it is a nation under God. In God We Trust. What’s wrong with us believing that God will protect our nation which is actually true?” Nyamitwe said.

The 2000 Arusha Accord, which ended Burundi’s ethnic civil war, stipulates that 60 percent of members of parliament be from the majority Hutu ethnic group and 40 percent from the minority Tutsis.

Three seats are designated to members of the Twa ethnic group. Women must occupy at least 30 percent of the seats in the National Assembly.

Nyamitwe down played the fact that there were no foreign heads of state at the inauguration. Many African countries were reportedly represented by their ambassadors.

He said the absence of foreign leaders did not take away President Nkurunziza’s legitimacy as the elected leader of Burundi.

“He was sworn in as president of the Republic of Burundi. He will govern over the people of Burundi. The elections were held in Burundi by Burundians for Burundi. Now there might be many reasons why we didn’t have any foreign leaders one of which being the change of the inauguration date,” Nyamitwe said.