In Burundi, all’s well that ends (?) well, or something

In a result that surprised nobody who’s been paying any attention, Burundi’s incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza officially won his third term in office today, as Burundi’s electoral commission announced the results of Tuesday’s election. The election was boycotted by opposition candidates, so the result was a foregone conclusion.

Nkurunziza is now getting heat from international human rights groups, like Amnesty International, for his violent repression of protesters who have been upset at his decision to seek a third term. Burundi’s constitution limits a president to two terms, but because of its wording (the limit is two “popular elections”) and because Nkurunziza was first elected by parliament, not a direct popular vote, in 2005, he has maintained that he should be allowed to stand for another election this year. The Burundi Constitutional Court upheld Nkurunziza’s right to stand for election again, but there are reports that its judges were forcibly coerced into making that ruling.

Nkurunziza is now saying that he’s open to forming a national unity government to try to get past to the country’s political tensions (which included an attempted coup back in May). But what kind of deal can he strike with the opposition that would satisfy everybody? He’s now been re-elected in an election that the opposition considers totally illegitimate, and he’s now planning to serve a third term that the opposition considers totally unconstitutional. What’s the compromise position here?

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Author: DWD

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