A Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson issued the following statement today (18 May) on yesterday’s constitutional referendum in Burundi:
A referendum on a new constitution was held in Burundi yesterday. The new constitution is intended to shift the balance of power in favour of the ruling party, allowing the current President to remain in office until 2034.
The Federal Government has taken note of this referendum, which runs counter to the efforts of Burundi’s African neighbours, the African Union and the United Nations to find a political solution to the conflict.
Since the beginning of the political crisis in April 2015, Burundi has witnessed serious human rights violations and the suppression of the political opposition. More than 420,000 refugees have left the country.
A number of the proposed amendments to the constitution contradict the provisions of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi from the year 2000, which ended protracted civil wars by introducing quotas between Hutus and Tutsis and the separation of powers. This agreement formed the basis for the constitution and focused on curbing power and achieving consensus and reconciliation. The adoption of a new constitution without inclusiveness and consensus of all political and social forces calls this into question.
The Federal Government calls on the Burundian Government to continue to respect and implement the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement as a guarantor of peace, democracy and stability in Burundi. Moreover, it urges the Government to embrace the mediation talks led by the East African Community and to do everything within its power to ensure that they lead to an inclusive and forward-looking outcome.