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Burundi CENI announces partial registration of exiled returnees for 2020 general elections

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Bujumbura, Burundi, August 15 (Infosplusgabon) - A partial registration of people returning from exile will take place before the Burundi general elections in 2020, Philippe Nzobonariba, the current Commissioner of Electoral Education and Communication to the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) announced on Thursday.


In May 2018, CENI registered Burundians at home and abroad for the constitutional referendum and the 2020 general elections.


The CENI had made it clear that Burundians with refugee status are not concerned because they had lost their original nationality. Those Burundians who return regularly will get the right to vote and be voted for, Nzobonariba said.


The refugees are among those who fled the political crisis following the 2015 controversial elections and the attendant violence, including an attempted military coup.


By the 2020 elections, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) projects an assisted return of 121,000 of the 394,000 Burundian refugees currently identified in neighboring countries.


The CENI spokesperson further indicated that the voters who lost their voting cards, will also have the right to vote on the basis of a special arrangements, yet to be announced.


In 2015, holders of a national identity card or "other piece of regular identification" (passport, driver's license, baptism card), were allowed to vote.


More than five million Burundians are expected to participate in the next elections, following the census of the CENI in May 2018.


Voter registration has been extended to those citizens who will not become adults until 2020, with the legal age of 18 to vote in Burundi.


On the side of political actors, the National Council for the Defense of the Rule of Law and the Inter-Burundian Agreement of August 2000, in Arusha, Tanzania, on peace and reconciliation (CENARED, main platform of the opposition in exile), has recently been mulling whether or not to participate in the next general election.


Radicals within this opposition coalition require security guarantees and a dialogue on the practicalities of holding elections "more inclusive, democratic and peaceful" than those of 2015.


On the side of Burundian power, it is said that the doors are open to those political leaders wanting to return from exile to take part in the next elections.


The only condition is that the returning candidates are not affected by international arrest warrants for their alleged active role in the 2015 Presidential "Anti-Third Mandate" insurgency and the failed military coup attempt that followed.


Political opponents have been leaving CNARED following internal leadership divisions and others are being lured by the Burundian authorities.


The announcement of the current Burundian head of state, Pierre Nkurunziza, not to run in 2020 after three terms, including the controversial 2015 polls, seems to be the main attraction for exiled opponents to return, according to analysts in Bujumbura.


The African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) have also welcomed the announcement by Nkurunziza, saying the position is likely to calm nerves in the country.


CENI has already announced the order of the elections next summer in Burundi, indicating that the presidential, legislative and municipal elections will take place on the same day, May 20, 2020.


In the CENI calendar, it is planned that the election of Senators will be held on July 20, followed by the election of Hill Councilors and neighborhoods (the smallest administrative entities in Burundi) on August 24, 2020.


In addition, the election campaign will start on April 27 and end on May 17, 2020, according to the schedule.


The future elected president will take an oath before the Parliament and the Constitutional Court on August 20, 2020.









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