Burundi debates removal of ethnic quotas from constitution in 2025
Burundi’s constitution provides for ethnic quotas (60% Hutu, 40% Tutsi) that the country’s authorities consider a measure against the possibilities of discrimination. Ethnic groups in Burundi include the three main indigenous groups Hutu, Tutsi and Twa.
The quota system must be respected in certain government institutions, including the army. Three seats in each chamber of the Burundian government are allocated to the Twa.
At the same time, since January 2017, foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) active in Burundi are required to respect ethnic quotas when employing local staff.
However, there is no satisfactory evidence worth considering that this quota system created any form of social and ethnic cohesion. Therefore, there is an ongoing debate on whether to abolish this quota agreement.
The ethnic quota requirement was adopted amid fears of a re-ethnization of politics and society, increased control over civil society and strained relations between the Burundian government and its aid partners. .
While authorities justify the measure as a remedy for decades of ethnically-based discrimination, an analysis of legal reform shows that a variety of other dominant party motivations and interests are behind its adoption and application.
While the reform reflects a broader international trend of shrinking civic space, the Burundi case study also shows how a smart discursive strategy can skillfully divide NGOs and their funding agencies.
Furthermore, the case study reveals the instrumental use of obscurity and ambiguity in terms of legal wording and application of the ethnic quota requirement.
Emmanuel Sinzohagera, President of the Senate is currently chairing a process of collecting information on the country’s past with the aim of helping to make informed decisions about the future.
For example, the controversy further obscures the events of 1972 without a clear, agreed or unanimous position on what to call or define.
Within the framework of the conferences on the bloody events of 1972, organized by the Senate, its president maintains that the qualification of the large-scale killings perpetrated in the country belongs to the Burundians themselves. According to him, this is not the responsibility of the United Nations.
Unlike some intellectuals and other personalities who claim that it is the United Nations that must qualify the large-scale killings that have raged in this country, Sinzohagera, President of the Senate believes that it is rather the responsibility of the Burundians themselves. – even to qualify these crimes.
According to him, it is not Germany, Belgium, as colonial powers or even less the international community who have this latitude. “It is above all the responsibility of the Burundians. The fate of our homeland is ours. It is our duty to qualify what happened in 1972 ”, insists Sinzohagera.
“The children and grandchildren of President Michel Micombero must not be victims of his acts or the bloody events of 1972. They are innocent just like the descendants of those who were victims of the killings of 1972 called ‘Abamenja’, the rebels. This ignominy should not stick to their skin like a curse when they have nothing to do with it, “he said.
“We need to know the truth to be reconciled and the objective is not to unearth the bloody past and sow discord, but the ultimate goal is to heal the injured Burundians so that our children do not inherit these. ailments. that our dear homeland has known, ”he declared.
“Any testimony on our dark past is welcome”
“That the skeptics be reassured, all the economic crises which mourned our country will be explored and conferences and debates will be organized so that the truth is known”, declared the president of the Senate.
The basis of all reconciliation, he insists, is the truth, the whole truth. Sinzohagera, calls on all personalities, all witnesses of all ethnicities to give their versions of the facts, without passion.
“It is not the only ex-president Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, a Hutu, who has just given lectures on the events of 1972 under the aegis of the Senate which can shed all the light, that there are also Tutsis for introductions, they are welcome. Moreover, the former president Ntibantunganya does not tell us what he reads ”, he called.
According to him, the Senate should not be misunderstood or misinterpreted about its objectives with these conferences. “The media must deliver the real message about the bloody events that have afflicted this country. “
Senate Speaker Sinzohagera insists on clarifying the scope of his work. It is under the terms of article 289 of the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi requiring the Senate to give its assessment of ethnic quotas and to see to what extent remove them or not from 2025, that this institution intends to explore all the contours of the ethnic question and the inter-ethnic violence that afflicts this country.
“It is difficult, if not impossible, to forget, to put a cross on our” so-called ethnicities “without knowing the truth about the cyclical violence that our country has known and which mourned our country on the basis of these same ethnicities. It would be difficult to move forward and walk towards reconciliation, ”Sinzohagera noted.