Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza has come under heavy criticism this time by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warning him against manipulating the country’s constitution to entrench himself longer in power.
“While it is the sovereign right of Burundi to amend its constitution, I strongly believe that such an important undertaking must be conducted in an inclusive manner that seeks to achieve a maximum possible participation and consensus among the key political stakeholders,” said the report sent to the Security Council on Monday.
Guterres said the opposition and civil society groups must be included in any decision to change the constitution to avoid a flareup of conflict in Burundi.
Burundi’s UN ambassador Albert Shingiro told media he had not read the report, but added that “any criticism of the planned constitutional amendments in Burundi is a violation of state sovereignty in line with the UN charter.”
Meanhile, Burundi’s constitutional changes would modify the ethnic quotas between Hutus and Tutsis that were outlined in the hard-won Arusha peace accord that ended the civil war.
“Durable peace comes with addressing the underlying root causes of the crisis, not by jeopardizing the foundations of relative normalcy, such as the Arusha Agreement, which brought a decade of peace to the country,” said Guterres.
The UN chief said he was “deeply concerned” that talks between the government and the opposition remain deadlocked, and said it was crucial that all sides “most especially the government” engage in a dialogue.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa are leading a regional effort to end the crisis in Burundi, but the report said the mediators have made little significant progress.