BUJUMBURA August 14th (ABP) – The Burundian Senate organized, on Thursday, August 10, 2023, in Nyabiraba commune, Bujumbura province (West of Burundi), an evaluation session of the ethnic quota system in the executive, legislative and the judiciary in accordance with article 289 of the constitution of the Republic of Burundi, to which were invited the parliamentarians elected in the constituency of Bujumbura, the heads of the decentralized services, the chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of the communal councils, the chairpersons of the standing commissions in communes, village leaders and mediators of Nyabiraba, Kanyosha, Mukike, Mugongomanga and Mutambu communes. The activity was honored by the presence of the first vice president of the Burundian Senate, Denise Ndadaye who, in her keynote address, called on the participants to express themselves on the maintenance or the abolition of ethnic quotas in the aforementioned institutions.
After the various speeches, the speakers divided the opinion, two tendencies arose, it was noticed. The bulk of the speakers, at least 3/4 of the participants maintained that those ethnic quotas have an origin: the Arusha agreements which brought security to Burundi, enabled the Burundians to live together again. They suggested that they should be maintained but without haste to avoid a relapse into past violence. It was also pointed out that the problem is not at the bottom, but it is at the top and asked to clean up the top by keeping the quotas and future generations will change things.
A speaker recalled that the scars of ethnic divisions are still present in the hearts of Burundians. For him, the quotas must be maintained, we must weave the torn fabric little by little. There are also those who argue that the quotas should be erased. For them, ethnic groups mean nothing, they must be abandoned and to have the image of Burundians highlighted. The quotas are an emanation of the Arusha agreements but which were imposed on Burundians, hence, it would be better to review these quotas in order to attribute to each ethnic group what belongs to it and avoid exclusion when positions are given. There is a small number of people who want that the quotas must be abandoned and privilege the skills of the people in the accession to occupations of the State, it was underlined.
In Isare commune, the guests of the Mutimbuzi, Mubimbi, Kabezi and Isare communes met on Friday August 11, 2023, at the headquarters of the commune. Mrs. Ndadaye asked them to express themselves in peace without fear of prosecution in order to give opinions and considerations that could help the Burundian Senate to rule on this article in order to move Burundi towards sustainable development. Two trends stood out. People who are older, born in the years before 1972, with past experience, spoke out in favor of maintaining those quotas. As reasons put forward, those quotas emanate from the Arusha Agreements which were signed after years of cyclical killings and given that peace, security and development reign, it would be better not to erase them but rather to keep them because they have produced positive results.
They asked not to erase them in a hurry, emphasizing that once properly applied, those quotas calm people’s minds. They spoke of the bad teachings that were given by some politicians when some people were in the maquis and asked that they proceed in the way they did in order to give teachings to young people to show them that a Tutsi is nothing bad, a Hutu the same and a Twa, too. They suggested cleaning up politics at the top and the bottom will follow. They also said that Burundians are hypocrites, that it takes time to keep those quotas so as not to fall back into violence and destruction. Another trend supported by the young and the relatively old who say that those quotas must be abolished, is that the most important thing is to be Burundian. They argue that being in the institutions following those quotas, one will tend to serve one’s ethnic group more than the others. They said that it was necessary to promote skills and not ethnic groups, although there were fewer of them.
The first vice president of the Senate thanked the people for their participation and indicated that they gave their opinions and considerations, which will be taken into account by the Senate. She then asked the village leaders to go and hold meetings with the people to collect their opinions and considerations to submit to the Senate, through the administrators and governors.