Burundi is heading to polls in May 2020 but without urgent intervention, the 2020 elections will take place in a climate of fear and intimidation. This would increase risks of electoral and authoritarianism, raising prospects of another major crisis with regional repercussions.
The impression created by president’s repeated comments that he will not stand in the upcoming elections has led to two strong factions emerging in his ruling party dividing the country right in the middle.
Burundi’s leaders maintain that the country is stable and the people are bustling with daily life but behind that façade, people are living in dread from the CNDD-FDD party politics.
The decision by President Nkurunziza not to contest in the eyes of the church puts the people of Burundi in the most awkward of the positions. The main contest in the upcoming elections is not between the opposition and those in the ruling party but the factions within the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy.
Strong factions within CNDD-FDD party between Silas Ntigurirwa and Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, both of them being Generals in the military are believed to have huge sums of money and are going around the country campaigning with no clear signs of who is going to win and how the losers will take it up. The two Generals are highly opinionated, cannot be told off and have reinforced hardline positions amongst the electorate.
Surprisingly though, the CNDD-FDD party has already started campaigning for Nkurunziza and the divisions portrayed within the party is designed to create a reason for President Pierre Nkurunziza to continue in power until 2034.
The main issue that has come up is that the CNDD-FDD party stands a big chance of extending the current leadership but the sticking issue is how those in power will handle the transition. This was complicated when the vote to decide whether President Pierre could continue in office returned a Yes vote in 2018.
Although Nkurunziza has said he won’t run in next year’s election not many people in Burundi believe him, especially after a national referendum last year that approved changing the constitution to extend presidential term limits.
Critics accused the government of intimidating people into voting “yes” and harassing those returning to the country for allegedly supporting the opposition parties because he has vested interest in the presidency.
The feeling on the ground is that the Government of President Nkurunzinza has not done anything significant to open up the political space and many fears that the 2020 elections will take place in a climate of political intimidation and violence not just between the ruling party and the opposition but within the ruling party along the key political figures.
Across the country, supporters of the ruling party and the opposition parties view each other with hostility. Tensions are running particularly high in the provinces of Ngozi, Muyinga and Kirundo in northern Burundi and Makamba in the south.
The results are that two centres of power cannot be in one house, the same party, leave alone the same nation.
Majority of Burundi citizens are anxious and to them they just need a leader with a vision for united and striving Burundi, not a Burundi for small groups.
CNDD-FDD Politicians are moving around country side conducting clandestine mobilisations, for instance, Willy Nyamitwe has been in Makamba province to launch a project to train “10000 social media trolls” ahead of so-called « 2020 elections ». The Money for the project comes from levies paid by telecommunications companies to ‘’Fond de Service Universel du Burundi’’.
Deteriorating justice system
The Government of Burundi has denied visa to lawyers representing those accused in Ndadaye Dossier and refused them entry into Burundi. Among those blacklisted are lawyers for former president Pierre Buyoya. In other worrying developments, ex-FAB senior officers who are currently in jail, ILLEGALLY as their detention has exceeded permissible timeframe set by law their families are crying foul, they have been in prison for nearly a year without trial nor had access to their case files.