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Burundi Debates Removing Ethnic Quotas From Constitution in 2025

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Burundi constitution provides for ethnic quotas (60% Hutu, 40% Tutsi) which authorities in the country argue is a measure against possibilities for discrimination.  Ethnic groups in Burundi include the three main indigenous groups of Hutu, Tutsi and Twa.

The quota system must be respected in certain government institutions, including the military. Three seats in each house of the Burundian government are allocated to the Twa.

Meanwhile, since January 2017, foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) active in Burundi are required to respect ethnic quotas when employing local staff.

However, there is no satisfactory proof worth considering that this quota system has created any form of social and ethnic cohesion. Therefore there is an ongoing debate on whether to scrap this quota arrangement. 

The ethnic quota requirement was adopted amidst fears of re-ethnicisation of politics and society, enhanced control on civil society and tense relations between the Burundi government and its aid partners. 

While authorities justify the measure as a remedy for decades of discrimination along ethnic lines, an analysis of the legal reform shows that a variety of other motivations and dominant party interests account for its adoption and enforcement. 

While the reform mirrors a wider international trend of shrinking civic space, the Burundi case study also shows how a clever discursive strategy may skillfuly divide NGOs and their funding agencies.

Furthermore, the case study reveals the instrumental use of obscurity and ambiguity in terms of the legal wording and enforcement of the ethnic quota requirement.

Emmanuel Sinzohagera, President of the Senate is currently presiding over a process of information gathering on the country’s past with the aim of helping make informed decisions on the future.

For example, controversy still clouds the events of 1972 with no clear or agreed or unanimous position on what to call or define them.

Within the framework of the conferences on the bloody events of 1972, organized by the Senate, its president maintains that the qualification of the large-scale killings perpetrated in the country is up to the Burundians themselves. According to him, this is not the responsibility of the United Nations.

Unlike some intellectuals and other personalities who proclaim that it is the United Nations that must qualify the large-scale killings that have plagued this country, Sinzohagera, President of the Senate believes that it is rather the responsibility of the Burundians themselves. – even to qualify these crimes.

According to him, it is not Germany, Belgium, as colonial powers or even less the international community that have this latitude. “This is primarily the responsibility of the Burundians. The fate of our motherland is ours. It is our duty to qualify what happened in 1972 “, insists Sinzohagera.

“The children and grandchildren of President Michel Micombero must not be victims of his actions or the bloody events of 1972. They are innocent just like the descendants of those who were victims of the killings of 1972 called ‘Abamenja’ ‘, the rebels. This ignominy must not stick to their skin like a curse when they have nothing to do with it “, He said.

“We need to know the truth in order to be reconciled and the objective is not to unearth the bloody past and sow discord, but the ultimate goal is to heal the wounded Burundians so that our children do not inherit these evils. that our dear homeland has known, ”he said.

“Any testimony on our dark past is welcome”

“That the skeptics are reassured, all the cyclical crises which mourned our country will be explored and conferences and debates will be organized so that the truth is known”, says the Senate President.

The basis of all reconciliation, he insists, is the truth, the whole truth. Sinzohagera, calls on all personalities, all witnesses of all ethnicities to give their versions of the facts, without passion.

“It is not the only ex-president Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, a Hutu, who has just given lectures on the events of 1972 under the aegis of the Senate who can shed all the light, that there are Tutsi also for presentations, they are welcome. Besides, former President Ntibantunganya does not tell us what he reads, “he called.

According to him, the Senate must not be misunderstood or misinterpreted on its objectives with these conferences. “The media must deliver the real message on the bloody events that have grieved this country.”

The Senate President Sinzohagera insists on clarifying the framework of his proceedings. It is under the terms of article 289 of the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi requiring the Senate to give its assessment of ethnic quotas and to see to what extent to remove them or not from 2025, that this institution intends to explore all the contours of the ethnic question and the inter-ethnic violence that has plagued this country.

“It is difficult, if not impossible, to forget, to put a cross on our ” so-called ethnic groups ” without knowing the truth about the cyclical violence that our country has known and which has brought mourning to our country on the basis of these same ethnicities. It would be difficult to move forward and walk towards reconciliation,” noted Sinzohagera.

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Asia

Afghanistan: Stay Home, Female Kabul Government Workers Told

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The new Taliban mayor of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul has told female municipal employees to stay home unless their jobs cannot be filled by a man.

Hamdullah Nomany said the Taliban “found it necessary to stop women from working for a while”.

It is the latest restriction imposed on Afghanistan’s women by the country’s hard-line new Islamist government.

During their previous rule in the 1990s women were barred from education and the workplace.

After seizing the country last month following the withdrawal of US forces, the Taliban said women’s rights would be respected “within the framework of Islamic law”.

But the Taliban favour a strict interpretation of Islam’s legal system, Sharia law.

Since taking power working women have been told to stay at home until the security situation improves, and Taliban fighters have beaten women protesting against the all-male interim government.

The Islamist group appears to have shut down the women’s affairs ministry and replaced it with a department that once enforced strict religious doctrines.

And this weekend secondary schools reopened, but with only boys and male teachers allowed back into classrooms. The Taliban said it was working on reopening schools for girls.

According to the Kabul mayor about a third of the municipality’s 3,000 employees are women. He said some would carry on working.

“For example, women work in the women’s toilets in the city where men cannot go,” he said.

“But for the positions that others [men] can fill, we have told them [women] to stay at home until the situation is normalised. Their salaries will be paid,” he added.

On Sunday, there were small protests outside the women’s affairs ministry while another group of women held a press conference to demand their rights.

One of those protesting at the ministry said “we do not want this ministry to be removed. The removal of women [means] the removal of human beings.”

In a separate development, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said it had been unable to fulfil its duties since the Taliban’s takeover.

The organisation said in a statement that its buildings, vehicles and computers had all been taken over by the Taliban.

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Politics

Ruto Wants To Reconcile With President Uhuru

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Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto has said that he wants to mend fences with his boss as the rift deepens between the two former allies.

However, it should be noted that last year, the two leaders also tried to fix their political differences mediated by the clergy but failed to make any headway.

The union between these two former political allies collapsed on July 22, 2019 following the arrest of Cabinet Secretary to the National Treasury Henry Rotich, who was accused of corruption.

Rotich, who pleaded not guilty, was released on bail the following day. He had been appointed by Kenyatta in 2013 at Ruto’s request.

The Ruto camp has never hidden its distrust for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), an outcome of the March 2018 peace pact between President Uhuru and Raila Odinga – his long-time opposition foe.

The initiative was symbolised by the famous public handshake between the two men – a moment now simply referred to as “The Handshake”.

Ruto’s supporters fear that the rapprochement signals Kenyatta’s plan to renege on a power-sharing and succession pact, under which he would back Ruto for president at the 2022 elections after serving two terms.

The BBI aims to amend the 2010 constitution – which established a presidential system – to create, among other things, a post of prime minister, two deputy prime ministers and a leader of the opposition and increase the number of seats in parliament.

According to President Uhuru, the constitutional review (BBI) is meant to mitigate the current “winner take all” system that has caused post-election conflicts throughout the country’s history.

On May 11, 2021 Parliament approved the bill, which was then to be put to a referendum.

But two days later, a Nairobi court ruled that the process was illegal, stating that such a constitutional review could not be initiated by the president.

With the collapse of the BBI, Ruto seems to have won the fight and thus seems to be ready to reconcile with Uhuru.

However, it remains to be judged by the forthcoming days whether the two will really reconcile. President Uhuru had earlier challenged his deputy to resign if he didn’t approve of the government achievements yet he serves in the same.

Although both President Kenyatta and Ruto have never explained exactly why their relationship fell apart, it is understood they previously exchanged bitter text messages. Some have been read by their allies.

“From the messages that I was shown, the differences between the two are personal and very deep. It will take a miracle for them to be ironed out,” one source said. His opinion was echoed by others.

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Politics

International Community Accused Of Regime Change Maneuvers In South Sudan

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South Sudanese Cabinet Affairs Minister has lambasted the international community, saying the country was lacking genuine friends but only those with the agenda of regime change.

Minister Martin Elia Lomuro (pictured above) pointed to reluctance by key members of the international community to fund the implementation of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement.

“Who says there are friends, perhaps in the region but in the international community, let me put it white and blank, we do are friends? Those that you see are working otherwise. They are for regime change,” said Lomuro.

The minister who is under UN and U.S. sanctions was speaking during an occasion marking the third anniversary of the revitalized 2018 peace agreement on Saturday. The roundtable discussion was organized by UN-owned Radio Miraya.

The cabinet minister said the lack of international support hampered the implementation of the peace agreement particularly the costly security arrangements.

Following the signing of the peace agreement, the Troika countries requested transparency in the management of the oil income before supporting the implementation process.

Peacebuilding Minister Stephen Par Kuol who also participated in the discussion argued that key members of the international community had refused to fund the implementation process because they believe the leadership was “corrupt”. So, these countries have decided to let everything be shouldered by the government.

Kuol further said it was cheaper to fund the implementation of the peace agreement than the humanitarian assistance given by these sam countries on compassionate ground.

“We have tried this (regime change) when we were in the opposition, but it did not work. So, I told these diplomats during our engagement with them to help fund the agreement so that the refugees and internally displaced persons can return to their homes. Instead of working for regime change, I ask them to support this current (transitional) government of the revitalized peace agreement, not the regime”, explained Kuol.

James Solomon Okuk, a senior independent political analyst and a researcher who published a book about the revitalized peace agreement said the accord had fallen below 10 per cent in the implementation of key provisions, especially provisions relating to security arrangement.

(ST)

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