As African leaders continue working to end the political crisis in Burundi, the United States again calls on President Pierre Nkunrunziza to respect the term limit provision of the Arusha Agreement in order to restore stability and help his country heal after weeks of violence. With his controversial candidacy threatening to undermine Burundi’s economic and democratic progress, the president must consider how his attempt to retain power will affect the future of his country and his legacy.
East African leaders from Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya along with South African President Jacob Zuma met May 31 in Tanzania to discuss the crisis, following an earlier summit on May 13. They called for the postponement of elections by at least a month and a half to create the right conditions for voting, as well as disarming the ruling party’s youth militias.
Protests erupted in Burundi in late April in response to Nkurunziza's decision to run for another term in June 26 polls. Opponents say that violates the constitution and the Arusha Agreement that was key to ending a deadly 13-year civil war.
The United States' government’s position remains that the Arusha Agreement must be respected, and that any violation of Arusha seriously undermines Burundi’s stability.
The conditions for free, fair, transparent and credible elections do not currently exist due to the closure of political space, the shutting down of independent media, the government’s violent response to political protests, and continuing reports of violence and intimidation by armed youth militia. These policies are not in accord with the principles of a democratic country, especially one facing national elections.
The United States calls for restraint by all Burundian stakeholders and regional partners. We urge all parties to continue to support the ongoing peaceful efforts to find a solution that is in accord with the Arusha Agreement, and to refrain from any acts that could contribute to the climate of instability or undermine the rule of law in Burundi.