Burundi Moves toward Authoritarianism, Public Protests
In response to the Burundian government’s violent suppression of demonstrations and its censorship of private radio stations following the announcement that President Nkurunziza would seek a constitutionally prohibited third term, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“It is extremely troubling how quickly and systematically security forces cracked down on criticism of President Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term,” said Vukasin Petrovic, regional director for Africa. “The first thing an authoritarian government does when it anticipates public outrage is to muffle dissent, by limiting the freedom of assembly and expression. Nkurunziza clearly expected his decision to spark protests and was prepared to suppress citizens' attempt to oppose a blatant power grab.”
The National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) -- nominated President Nkurunziza at a special party gathering as its presidential candidate, maintaining that he was not elected by the public in 2005 and thus was eligible for a third time.
Civil society leaders, political opponents and the international community have repeatedly warned that Nkurunziza deciding to run for a third term would undermine the Arusha peace accord, which ended years of civil war. The demonstrations, now in their second day, have led to at least five deaths among the protestors. The government has prevented several private radio stations from broadcasting about the demonstrations.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.