By: Rpf Gakwerere
On 07/06/2018, President Pierre Nkurunziza made a surprise announcement, saying he will not contest in Burundi’s next presidential elections in 2020.
The announcement came as a surprise to those who follow the Greatlakes geo – politics, especially when you consider that the president made the announcement after promulgating the Country’s constitution, which had been approved through a referendum.
The amendments to the constitution extended the presidential term from five to seven years and gave president Nkurunziza an opportunity to seek two more terms, beginning in 2020.
When he made the announcement, scepticism set pace as the population referred this announcement to other previous announcements made by other presidents in the Greatlakes region.
For those in the Greatlakes region, especially Rwandans and Ugandans – the reference to their respective presidents became their main quotations and references.
However, why do I believe that president Peter Nkurunziza will keep his word?
• For those who didn’t know, within CNDD – FDD, the president’s political party, there have been a genuine, open and candid discussion on the direction of the political party. Within these internal political discussions which were totally free from fear and intimidation, two sides emerged. There was a side which wanted president Peter Nkurunziza to stay and contest the 2020 election and the side which wanted, the president to move aside, and let the helm and the CNDD – FDD torch be given to the next crop of leaders within CNDD – FDD. The argument and the voice of change captured the heart of the president, thus the announcement.
• Among Burundians, family and friends play a big role in decision making. President Peter Nkurunziza approached his immediate family and close friends to seek for their opinions. For those who have Burundian friends, will know that they are candid in their opinion, and to close friends or relatives, they will give them an open opinion. In this case, president Peter Nkurunziza was counselled with advice to not context, have a rest, enjoy and embark on other activities which are close to his heart like developing athletes, owning a professional football team, farming and spreading the gospel of Jesus. Thus weighing in making the announcement.
• There is a key note that people, especially those who are sceptical have to realise. While President Peter Nkurunziza was making this announcement, he was reading from a prepared speech. This meant that he well knew what was put in the speech, approved the speech and its contents. For example, all the 7 times that criminal Paul Kagame said that he won’t contest in the 2017 presidential election, he was always answering to questions from journalist. None of his communique ever came from a prepared speech, but the response of not contesting always came as defence reaction when international journalists cornered him; same apply to president Museveni. Like former president of Angola – Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who announced he won’t contest the 2017 president elections through a well prepared speech to the nation, the same trend that President Peter Nkurunziza took, thus giving me optimism on his promise of not contesting the 2020 presidential election.
• On 11/03/18, the CNDD – FDD, the party of the president, gave President Peter Nkurunziza a new title of “Visionary leader of CNDD –FDD,” According to information within the organisation, this title was given to president Nkurunziza as a declaration for his role in post presidency. The role that would be similar to that played by Mzee Mwalimu Nyerere within CCM party in Tanzania, when he retired from the presidency. By March of this year, President Peter Nkurunziza had somehow made his mind that, come 2020, he won’t contest the presidential elections.
• President Peter Nkurunziza is a great admirer of Burundi’s post independent leader crown Prince Louis Rwagasore and his legacy. Reliable source have confined that President Peter Nkurunziza is totally obsessed with the kind of legacy he will leave behind to the next generation. According to this source, president Nkurunziza wants to leave a positive legacy that the next generation will be proud to talk about, discuss, reference and quote. It is this consciousness which has allowed him to come to a conclusion that come 2020, he won’t participate in the presidential election.
Come 2020, president Peter Nkurunziza won’t stand for the highest post in the Country.