News and Information

Burundi leader wants to run for office
December 14, 2004
Bujumbura - Burundi's interim President Domitien Ndayizeye is considering changing the constitution to allow him to run for a new mandate in elections due next April, an official in his office said on Tuesday.

"President Domitien Ndayizeye envisages changing the new constitution to introduce direct nationwide polls for the election of the next head of state and to enable those who have led the political transition to take part," the official said.

Ndayyizeye, a Hutu, took over from Tutsi president Pierre Buyoya halfway into a power-sharing transition period of three years, which ended in November.

The interim government was a key point in agreements aimed at ending a decade of civil war between Hutu rebels and the minority Tutsis who make up most of the armed forces and, previously, the government.

"The president will base his plan on what the people ask for during the course of the current campaign to explain the constitution," the official said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the central African country's electoral commission said a referendum on a new constitution, providing for long-term power-sharing between Tutsis and Hutus, will be postponed from December 22 to an unspecified date.

"The referendum will not take place on the 22nd of December as planned," spokesperson for the commission Astere Kana said, announcing the third delay in the planned referendum, initially set for October 20.

Kana said that electoral lists had not been published, and the law stipulated a 15-day delay after publication to allow for possible lawsuits.

In its current shape, the constitution bans either Buyoya, who was an army major and one-time military ruler, or Ndayizeye from standing for office in the first term after the transition.

The text stipulates that the head of state will be elected by universal suffrage, but not until the end of the first post-transition mandate. Instead, the country's first new parliament will vote for a head of state in April, at the end of an electoral process involving seven polls in all.

Ndayizeye's spokesperson, Pancrace Cimpaye, was prudent when asked by the press about the reported plans of the head of the state, without denying that they are on the cards.

"We're going to wait for the end of the campaign to explain things to the population, which we can't know until we do the position regarding the 'constitutional' articles concerned," Cimpaye said.

The war that erupted in October 1993 when a Hutu president was assassinated has claimed about 300 000 lives. - Sapa-AFP


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