Today, 6 July 2015, the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) together with the East African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum(EACSOF) filed an application at the East African Court of Justice.The purpose of this application is to obtain a ruling from the East African Court of Justice on the legality of the decision of the Constitutional court of Burundi which allowed President Nkurunziza to run for a third term in elections on 5th May 2015. This decision was reached despite the following;
On 28th August 2000, the Government of the Republic of Burundi signed the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement (Arusha Agreement) which provides that that the President of the Republic of Burundi“ shall be elected for a term of 5 years, renewable only once. No one may serve more than 2 presidential terms.”
The constitution of Burundi clearly provides that The President of the Republic is elected by universal direct suffrage for a mandate of five years renewable one time.”
That the decision by the constitutional court of Burundi was reached under great pressure and intimidation. This became apparent when the vice president of the court, Mr. SylvereNimpagaritse fled the country and the decision was thus reached in the absence of a full bench.
Civil Society organisations are convinced that the people of Burundi are unhappy with the decision of the Constitutional court and the president’s bid to run for a third term however elections are set to proceed despite the political turmoil and unrest and in light of the following.
The African Union and East African Community have made calls for the elections to be postponed.
Threats and intimidation continue, on 28th June 2015, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Pie Ntavyohanyuma quit the government and fled, on 25th June 2015 the 2nd Vice President of the Republic, Mr. GervaisRufyikiri quit the government and fled, on 30th May 2015, the Vice-President of the Commission électoralenationaleindépendante/Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) of the Republic of Burundi, Ms. Spes-Caritas Ndironkeye, together with a Member of the said Commission, Ms. IlluminataNdabahagamye fled.
PALU and the EACSOF is hoping to obtain the following remedies from the East African Court of Justice.
A Declaration that the decision by the Constitutional court of Burundi violates the Arusha Agreement.
A Declaration that the decision of the Constitutional Court of Burundi violates the treaty for the establishment of the East African Community.
An Order to quash the decision of the Constitutional Court of Burundi.