University Don asks Burundi President to step down

By our corresspondent

President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi

President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi

A Nigerian academic has called on African leaders to consider common interest and fair play above personal interest, to move the continent forward.

Dr Aminu Umar of the Department of Political Science at the Kaduna State Polytechnic, gave this advice in a chat with The Renaissance on the political and constitutional crisis in Burundi.

Dr. Umar’s advice is coming on the heels of the protest going on in that country over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term in office.

“Constitutional logjam in Burundi must be handled with utmost caution and African countries as well as the international bodies should come together to contain the executive overzealousness and arrogance of power in Burundi…They should leave when ovation is loudest.

“The is the direction the African leaders must begin to look at now,” he said.

On Sunday, security forces in Burundi stopped private radio stations from doing live broadcasts of the demonstrations against the president’s ambition.

One of the country’s main opposition radio stations, African Public Radio, known as ‘Voice of the Voiceless’ was closed down after police accused it of links to an insurrection.

At least, three people were killed on Sunday as police shot live ammunition in the air to disperse thousands of protesters in the capital city of Bujumbura.

Police also fired tear gas at activists as they defied a ban on protests to take to the streets for a second day.

Many demonstrators have also been detained.

Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader, has served two terms as president, coming to the office at the end of the conflict.

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But Burundi’s constitution only allows the president to be elected twice.

His supporters argue that “he is eligible for another term since he was appointed by parliament in 2005”.

The opposition says “the bid threatens a peace deal that ended the 12-year civil war in 2005.”

Dr Aminu Umar says the crisis cannot be settled only from the eye of the law.

“The issue cannot only be settled or predicated on the provision of the constitution but on morality and the spirit of the law, especially when there is crisis.

“If you have done two terms why must you force yourself on the people? Nkurunziza should take a cue from Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo’ third term agenda,’’ he said.

Arrest of a right activist Reports say a prominent human rights activist, Pierre Claver Mbonimpa has been arrested in the building of the local press association.

Mbonimpa had previously asked the ruling party not to put the president up for a third term, arguing that it would be a violation of the constitution.

“If he is very popular, why are people protesting against him? Party politics should not be the basis for his third coming.

Everybody knows party politics in Africa is always in the hands of whoever is in the position of power.

What the leaders should consider are transparency, sincerity, fairness and justice,’’ Dr Umar stated.

The United States condemned the president’s bid for a third term.

In a statement, it says Burundi is “losing an historic opportunity to strengthen its democracy”.

At his nomination by a special party congress on Saturday, President Nkurunziza warns that “whoever wants to create problems with the ruling party, elected by the people, he will find himself in trouble”.

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