Burundi’s Parliament Validates New Electoral Commission, As Opposition Criticizes Move

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Burundi’s National Assembly on Thursday approved the composition of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni) by a large majority, with the opposition denouncing a “violation of procedure”.

The new president of the seven-member Ceni will be the current government spokesman, Prosper Ntahorwamiye.

The Electoral Commission was also validated on Wednesday by the Senate, by a very large majority.

Some of the deputies from Burundi’s main opposition party, the Conseil national pour la liberté (CNL), boycotted the vote, denouncing “a violation of procedure”, as the vote in the National Assembly was held after that in the Senate.

“The CNI is a very important commission in the life of the country and the preparation of fair elections. We refuse to take part in the vote because we were not consulted on its composition,” said CNL deputy Pamphile Malayika.

“We are democrats (…) Those who want to can leave and not take part in the vote, that’s democracy,” said the president of the National Assembly, Gélase-Daniel Ndabirabe, from his perch.

The next legislative elections in Burundi are scheduled for 2025.

While the international community has welcomed a certain opening-up of the country since Evariste Ndayishimiye came to power in June 2020 following the sudden death of Pierre Nkurunziza, a UN Commission of Inquiry stated in September 2021 that the human rights situation in Burundi remained “disastrous”.

Landlocked in the Great Lakes region, Burundi is the world’s poorest country in terms of GDP per capita, according to the World Bank.