Burundians protest against Nkurunziza’s third term bid at UN Headquarters

By Dennis Kabatto – Leaders of Burundian communities of New York, New Jersey, Maine & Connecticut say Friday’s letter delivery to UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban and simultaneous protest rally to stop President Nkurunziza from running for a third term was a success.

Olivier Wakarerwa, member of Burundian communities of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maine organizing committee-6-14-2015

Olivier Wakarerwa, member of Burundian communities of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maine organizing committee

Burundian nationals Raphael Nzirubusa and Olivier Wakererwa of New York made the claim during a taped phone interview on Sunday for African New Dawn Radio that broadcasts over on WRSU, 88.7 FM at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Wakererwa said the protesting Burundian communities have four major demands: including the disarming, dismantling, freeze funding and training of the police; recall Burundians soldiers from peacekeeping mission abroad to keep the peace at home; prosecute unpunished crimes during President Nkurunziza’s tenure and the release of all political prisoners.

“The importance of this rally was enormous in reference to our community because it was important for us to make an awareness of the case for Burundi.  Though the UN and its members are already aware of the situation but at least they could see the community was ready to march for an actual cause,” Nzirubusa said.

Burundians protest against President Nkurunziza's third term bid at United Nations Headquarters on Friday

Burundians protest against President Nkurunziza’s third term bid at United Nations Headquarters on Friday

“We had a good coverage of the event by the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) which was very important for us because at the same time the African Union was actually meeting in Johannesburg in South Africa, so it was a very good opportunity to show that we are actually committed as a community.”

Burundians in Burundi and in the Diaspora are worried that Nkurunziza’s insistence on bidding for a third term could cause the country to descend into a civil war.

African leaders meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa for the 25th African Union Summit agreed Monday to send military experts to Burundi.

“We are hoping to deploy at least 50 military experts.  The mission of these people will be to observe what is happening and also to give counsel to the police if need be,” Smail Chergui, African Union Commissioner of Peace and Security told reporters.

Raphael Zirubusa - from left - speaks with South Africa Broadcasting Corporation during protest rally against Nkurunziza's third term bid at UN Headquarters in New YorkThe constitutional crisis has left approximately 40 dead and many wounded mostly in the capital Bujumbura. The number of refugees who have fled Burundi has doubled to over 100,000 of which 60 percent are children, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

While Burundian communities were protesting at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday, the Burundi election commission approved all eight candidates who have registered to contest the presidential election, including President Nkurunziza and his leading opponent Agathon Rwasa.

With a population of over 10 million, Burundi voters will vote on June 29 for the National Assembly and hold presidential elections on July 15, 2015.