President Pierre Nkurunziza. Retrieved from www.afrikareporter.com
On 6 July 2015, the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) and the East African Civil Society Organisations Forum (EACSOF) filed an application at the East African Court of Justice to challenge the decision of the Constitutional Court of Burundi on 5th May 2015 that allowed president Nkurunziza to run for president for a third term.
This decision was reached despite the government of Burundi having signed the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement (Arusha Agreement) on 28th August 2000, which clearly states that an individual can serve no more than two five year terms in office.
The decision by the Constitutional Court of Burundi was reached under great pressure and intimidation as witnessed when the vice president of the court, Mr. Sylvere Nimpagaritse fled the country and the decision reached in his absence.
Many are convinced that the people of Burundi are not happy with the decision made by the Court and the president’s bid to run for a third term. However, plans for national elections are still underway despite the political turmoil and unrest that the country is experiencing. The African Union and the East African Community have called for the elections to be postponed until the issue is resolved.
With threats and intimidation still high, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the 2nd Vice president of the Republic, the Vice-President of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), and a Member of the said Commission have all fled the country.
PALU and EACSOF are praying the EACJ for the following reliefs:
- A declaration that CENI and the Constitutional Court of Burundi have violated the Arusha Agreement and consequently the Constitution of Burundi.
- A Declaration that the Constitutional Court of Burundi has violated the treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.
- An order to suppress the decision made by the Constitutional Court of Burundi and CENI’s decision for president Nkurunziza to run illegally for a third term.