LAST month’s Burundi constitutional referendum was widely seen as a move to allow President Pierre Nkurunziza to stay put for years to come.
That the former rebel leader has now signaled that he’s willing to bow out gracefully in 2020 has raised hopes that Burundi might again be moving closer to stability and the rule of law – after 300,000 people died in a 1993-2005 civil war and recent years marked by political unrest and violent oppression.
Maybe you were among the many who were pleasantly surprised. Get ready to be disappointed. The latest findings from UN investigators aren’t too hopeful. They found that “extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, targeting those opposed to the proposed amendment of the constitution” had taken place this year.
The overall security context, they warned, was likely to worsen and cast doubt on the sincerity of Nkurunziza’s announcement. For its part, Burundi dismissed the findings as the fruit of “geopolitical appetites”.