We thank the experts who are helping us understand the political confusion in Burundi. We have heard those experts transferring the ethno-political dynamics in Rwanda to Burundi.
The only reason for those exerts is to make the situation (or confusion) in Burundi sexier and, therefore, attractive to the international media.
However, in spite of those expert opinions, I am very sure there is a vernacular aspect. That thing called ULR (Unique Local Realities) in the intelligence analysis.
In spite of sharing the same Hutu-Tutsi dichotomy and ethnic mix, Rwanda and Burundi are not what one would describe as identical twins if viewed at close range.
Whereas in Rwanda the Hutus are accused of carrying out the 1994 genocide, in Burundi it is the Tutsi who are accused of carrying out genocide in 1972 and 1993.
So, the fear of a potential genocide against the Tutsi in Burundi (just because President Pierre Nkurunzia is a Hutu) sounds unlikely for me; but of course I am not an expert. The structural organisation of power in Burundi is quite different. The letter of the constitution, it is unlikely that a Tutsi would be president. So, the fight for president is actually the affair of the Hutus.
UPRONA, the only ‘serious’ Tutsi political party, is closer to Pierre Nkurunziza’s political party than most Hutu parties. UPRONA cannot challenge for power but there is a feeling that the 50 per cent Tutsi of the army would be more inclined to them…
Oh yes, the army in Burundi is constitutionally supposed to be composed moitie-moitie (half-half) in father Hutus and Tutsi.
Now, about Nkurunziza’s third term of office. If it is about the letter of the constitution, Nkurunziza qualifies to seek re-election. However, the writers of the constitution were ambiguous on the transition from the power sharing mechanism of the Arusha Accords to the constitutional regime now obtaining.
The Arusha Accords is staggered across the constitution and there was a general assumption that spirit and the letter of the Arusha Accords would be read together with the constitution. Wrong. And now with Nkurunziza.
And because of that assumption, President Nkurunziza was shy to bring it up or prepare the people for his third term. I guess he thought bringing it up at the last moment was the best way to go over it. He was wrong in his assessment; and he might end up fuelling another civil war.
Yet we wrote about this last year on December 2, 2014.
Burundi will hold presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015. The significance of the elections in Burundi is that the incumbent president will not be eligible to run for office.
In 2015, President Nkurunziza of Burundi will have been in power for 10 years; that is two five-year terms of office. He is currently serving his second (also assumed to be the last) term which ends in 2015. The key word here is “assume”.
But wait a minute! In politics (particularly African politics), there is no space for the word assume. We have heard experiences of situations marked in black and white being glossed over.
There have been reports that Nkurunziza is likely to run for office in the next presidential elections; which could earn him a third term of office (if he wins the poll). His reasoning is that the first five-year term he served was part of a transition period which was (and should) not covered by the constitutional provision that prohibits presidents to serve for more than two terms.
For his first term of office, he was elected by the Members of Parliament in an arrangement that was aimed at ending the Burundi crisis. For the current term, he was elected by universal suffrage.
Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of East Africa Flagpost.