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Analysis and adoption of the draft organic law amending the Electoral Code

ByWebmaster

Apr 12, 2024

BUJUMBURA, April 12nd (ABP) – Members of Parliament, meeting in plenary session at the Kigobe hemicycle on Tuesday April 9, analyzed and adopted the draft organic law amending Law No. 1/11 of May 20, 2019 on the Electoral Code.

In his explanatory statement, the Minister of the Interior, Community Development and Public Security, Mr. Martin Niteretse, indicated that that bill comes to resolve the problems encountered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) in the implementation of certain provisions of the Penal Code in force and to take into account the recommendations resulting from the evaluation of the 2020 electoral process.

Minister Niteretse also pointed out that there are a number of major innovations in the draft organic law. “With the exception of the presidential term of office, which is 7 years, the other terms of office remain 5 years, in order to bring the electoral code into line”, he said. He pointed out that the electoral campaign opens on the 16th day before polling day and closes 48 hours before polling day. In other words, the electoral campaign lasts two weeks instead of three.

According to the Minister of the Interior, political party coalitions are formed after the elections for which they wish to run have been called.

In order to facilitate the counting of results, Mr. Niteretse announced that the duration of the ballot is one day. Voting opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. He also pointed out that the mandate of hill or district chiefs is incompatible with any other public or elective office. That mandate, he continued, is also incompatible with the function of member of a governing body of a political party, a coalition of political parties or the status of student.

According to him, the candidate member of the village or district council must be able to read and write. In order to limit fanciful candidacy declarations for the elections, that bill proposes a deposit of two hundred thousand Burundian francs (200,000 BIF) for candidacy for the posts of communal councillors, two million Burundian francs (2,000,000 BIF) for senatorial and deputy candidates, and one hundred million Burundian francs (100,000,000 BIF) for presidential candidates.

Burundians living outside the country may vote for candidates from their home constituency, including the independent candidate. The distribution of seats on the communal council takes into account the representation of each zone for the party that won the elections.

During the discussion, MPs wanted to know why the deposit for presidential and legislative candidacies had been increased. Minister Niteretse replied that that had been done in order to reduce fanciful candidacies for the presidential elections because, he pointed out, it had been noted in previous periods that some people stood as candidates for publicity purposes.

The same applies to the communal councillors, because with the new administrative configuration, we would like the communal council to be made up of people determined to promote and defend the interests of the commune.

Regarding the reduction in the length of the electoral campaign from three to two weeks, he pointed out that the electoral campaign is a period of high mobilization, during which almost all other activities are temporarily suspended. Even the representatives of the political parties have demonstrated that the three-week period is long and requires a great deal of physical and financial effort, he added. Minister Niteretse also emphasized that a long campaign disrupts the population, who must continue to pursue other self-development activities.

Of the 117 deputies present, 115 (98.3%) adopted the organic law amending the Electoral Code, with two abstentions.

Before closing the plenary session, the deputies analyzed and adopted 97 amendments of form and 61 others of substance.