Assemblée Nationale du Burundi


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publie le jeudi 13 janvier 2022
parNDAYIZEYE Jean Bosco

Background of the Burundi National Assembly

Social dynamics mean that all societies experience social disparities, contradictions and conflicts.
Burundian society cannot escape that. It has its conflicts and more specifically a conflict that the Arusha Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Burundi of August 28, 2000, defined as “a fundamentally political conflict with ethnic aspects extremely important” and “arising from a political struggle to gain access to power and/or to stay in power”.

It’s because of that conflict that between September 1961 and July 2005, the Burundian Parliament has been having ups and downs, considering periods of functioning on one hand, especially between 1961 and 1965, between 1982 and 1987 and from 1993 to the present day, and on the other hand, periods of parliamentary vacuum due to military coups. It’s in that line that this brief background talks about.

Legislative elections of September 18, 1961

The elections of September, 1961 took place in a political competition marked by the clan conflict between the Ganwa political families of the Bezi (ruling family) and the Batare, by the ethnic conflict and by the multi-party system.

The UPRONA party (Union for National Progress), which was the favourite, won the elections, outperforming all its adversaries in the ’Common Front’, a group of political parties opposed to the pro-UPRONA coalition and united behind the P.D.C. (Christian Democratic Party).

UPRONA won 58 out of 64 seats, against 6 seats for the Common Front. On September 28, 1961, Mr. Thaddée SIRYUYUMUSI was elected President of the National Assembly. Faced with a chaotic legislature marked by governmental instability and ethno-political divisions both within the Burundian political class and within the young Parliament, King MWAMBUTSA IV was obliged to dissolve the Parliament and call for early elections, which took place on May 10, 1965.

The legislative elections of May 10th 1965

On May 10, 1965, the legislative elections turned out to be like those of 1961, in the context of a multiparty system and in a heated political climate. But in 1965, the multiparty system had been reduced to a two-party system.
Indeed, UPRONA had to face only the People’s Party (P.P.). Another important difference is that the 1962 legislative elections established a unicameral parliament, whereas the 1965 legislative elections were to establish a bicameral parliament consisting of a National Assembly and a Senate.

UPRONA also won the elections, winning a majority of votes in both the National Assembly and the Senate. Of the 33 seats in the National Assembly, UPRONA had 21 seats, i.e. 70% of the seats, the P.P. had 10 seats and the remaining 2 seats went to independent candidates.

In the Senate, UPRONA had 12 seats out of 16, i.e. 80% of the Senators. Emile BUCUMI was the President of the National Assembly and Joseph BAMINA headed the Senate. Unlike the previous legislature, the 1965 legislature lasted only a few months. Indeed, the Parliament elected on May 10,1965 was dissolved in 1965 after an attempted coup. From that date until 1982, Burundi did not have a parliament.

The legislative elections of October 22nd 1982

On October 22, 1982, legislative elections were organised by the 2nd Republic under President Jean-Baptiste BAGAZA. Unlike the previous ones, the 1982 elections took place in the context of a single party, UPRONA. It was a question of setting up a unicameral Parliament which was presided over by Hon. Emile MWOROHA.

A total of 65 MPs were elected during these popular consultations. The only cleavage that could be observed in the composition of the new Parliament was the ethnic cleavage : out of 65 MPs, there were only 10 Hutu. The National Assembly of October 22, 1982 was dissolved during the coup led by Major Pierre BUYOYA against Colonel BAGAZA on September 3rd, 1987. It took six years to have another National Assembly.

The legislative elections of June 29th 1993

The presidential elections of June 1, 1993 experienced the victory of the first democratically elected Burundian President, His Excellency Melchior NDADAYE. He had been competing with Major Pierre BUYOYA and Pierre-Claver SENDEGEYA.

The legislative elections took place on June 29, 1993. They came with the establishment of a new National Assembly composed of 81 MPs. There were 65 MPs from Sahwanya - FRODEBU party (Front for Democracy in Burundi) and 16 MPs from UPRONA party.

The National Assembly of 1993-1998 was managed by an elected Bureau composed of a Speaker, a Deputy Speaker and as many Secretaries General as there were parliamentary groups. Since there were two parliamentary groups, i.e. FRODEBU and UPRONA, a Secretary General and a Deputy Secretary General were elected from FRODEBU and UPRONA respectively. They all had the same advantages.

The 1993-1998 legislature was supposed to end with the establishment of a new National Assembly through the organisation of new legislative elections. Unfortunately, because of the crisis that the country was experiencing due to the coup of October 21, 1993, which killed President Melchior NDADAYE, Hon. Pontien KARIBWAMI, Speaker of the National Assembly and many other senior officials, the elections didn’t take place.

Since it was not possible to organise legislative elections and in order to preserve the higher interest of the Nation, the Government and the National Assembly held a dialogue and negotiated a political partnership which resulted in a Transitional National Assembly. That partnership was concretized through the signing of the Transitional Constitutional Act and the Political Platform of the Transitional Regime by the President of the Republic and the Speaker of the National Assembly on June 6, 1998.

Consequently, the 1993-1998 National Assembly was enlarged to include all political and social forces that were not represented there but wanted to participate that time round. It was in that context that the Transitional National Assembly was established, comprising of 121 MPs from political parties and civil society.

The dialogue and negotiation continued in Arusha in the United Republic of Tanzania, that time with the participation of all stakeholders in the Burundian conflict and some armed political parties and movements. Thanks to the mediation first of the former Tanzanian President, late Julius K. NYERERE and then former South African President Nelson MANDELA and South African Vice-President Jacob ZUMA, the parties to the Burundian conflict in negotiation signed the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in Arusha on August 28, 2000.

The implementation of the Arusha Agreement led to the installation of the Transitional National Assembly and a Transitional Senate. The Transitional National Assembly set up on January 4, 2002 was composed of 185 deputies, including the 121 deputies of the previous Transitional National Assembly to which were added MPs resulting from the balance provided for following the Arusha Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Burundi.

With the entry of the National Council for the Defence of Democracy - Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) into the Transitional National Assembly, in accordance with the decision RCCB 76 of the Constitutional Court of March 11, 2004, as well as other decisions of the Court that allowed other armed political movements to be represented in that institution, the number of MPs rose from 185 to 220.

It should be noted that the National Assembly and the Transitional National Assembly were successively led by MPs Hon. Pontien KARIBWAMI (July 1993 - October 1993), Hon. Sylvestre NTIBANTUNGANYA (December 1993 - October 1994), Hon. Léonce NGENDAKUMANA (January 1995 - 2001) and Hon. Dr Jean MINANI (December 1994 - January 1995, January 2002 - August 2005).

As for the Transitional Senate, it was headed by Hon. Libère BARARUNYERETSE. It was composed of 57 members appointed by the President of the Republic of Burundi and his Vice-President on the basis of political and ethnic parity, in accordance with Arusha Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Burundi.

The legislative elections of July 2005

On February 28, 2005, the post-transitional Constitution was approved by referendum and promulgated on March 18, 2005, making a way for free and democratic multiparty elections of June, July and August 2005 that ended the transitional period. The current bicameral Parliament was established in accordance with that Constitution and the Electoral Code.

It comprises a National Assembly and a Senate elected for a five-year term. The National Assembly was elected by direct universal suffrage on July 4, 2005, with 60% Hutu, 40% Tutsi, including 30% women, and three co-opted Twa MPs in accordance with the Constitution and the Electoral Code.

The distribution of the 100 seats in the National Assembly was as follows : 59 for CNDD-FDD (National Council for the Defence of Democracy - Forces for the Defence of Democracy) party, 25 for Sahwanya-FRODEBU party, 10 for UPRONA party, 4 for CNDD (National Council for the Defence of Democracy) party and 2 for MRC-Rurenzangemero (Movement for the Rehabilitation of the Citizen) party.

Those results did not reflect the required percentages for ethnicities and women. The imbalances were then redressed by co-option as the Electoral Code reads. Thus, in the National Assembly, the distribution of the 118 seats spread over the 17 electoral districts that the country has is as follows : 64 for CNDD-FDD, 30 for FRODEBU, 15 for UPRONA, 4 for CNDD, 2 for MRC and 3 for the Twa.
Since March 16, 2007, the National Assembly has been headed by a Speaker, Right Hon. Dr Pie NTAVYOHANYUMA, who succeeded Hon. Immaculée NAHAYO, previously elected Speaker of this institution on August 16, 2005. The Speaker is assisted by a First Deputy Speaker and a Second Deputy Speaker, each from a parliamentary group. The Speaker and his two Deputy Speakers form the Bureau of the National Assembly.

The Senate was chaired by Right Hon. Gervais RUFYIKIRI. It was composed of 49 senators elected on July 29, 2005 by indirect suffrage or co-opted, with 50% Hutus and 50% Tutsis, including a minimum of 30% women. Former Heads of State Jean Baptiste BAGAZA, Pierre BUYOYA, Sylvestre NTIBANTUNGANYA and Domitien NDAYIZEYE became automatically senators. The senators are distributed as follows : 32 for CNDD-FDD, 5 for FRODEBU, 3 for CNDD, 3 for the Twa, 2 for UPRONA and 4 former heads of state.

The Legislative elections of July 23th 2010

The 2010-2015 legislature held its first plenary session on Monday, August 16, 2010, under the chairmanship of Hon. Festus NTANYUNGU born on November 12, 1945. It was headed by a Bureau characterized by stability, unlike the previous legislature. Its composition :
Hon. Pie NTAVYOHANYUMA : Speaker
Hon. Mo-Mamo KARERWA : Deputy Speaker
Hon. François KABURA : Second Deputy Speaker.
In total, 106 MPs from three political families, namely CNDD-FDD, UPRONA, FRODEBU NYAKURI IRAGI RYA NDADAYE, to which must be added three co-opted MPs from the BATWA community, made up the 2010-2015 legislature. The political parties were distributed as follows, according to the results of the legislative elections :
1. CNDD-FDD : 81
2. UPRONA : 17
The Gender was represented by 30 women out of 76 men, i.e. 27.6%.

Legislature 2015-2020

The Constitution of March 18, 2005, grants the right to participate in national life to any Burundian who meets the required conditions.
This same Constitution recalls that no one can speak of democracy without all citizens, men and women, of all ethnicities, being validly represented in the Government and in the Parliament. The National Assembly resulting from the legislative elections of June 29, 2015, is therefore in line with this logic of reflecting the composition of Burundian society.

Thus, 121 MPs were elected to represent people in their diversity. Looking at the composition of this legislature, the quotas set by the Constitution were respected. Thus, out of the 121 MPs, the Hutu ethnic group is represented by 71, the Tutsi by 47 and 3 Deputies who represent the Twa ethnic minority. Of the 121 MPs who make up the National Assembly, 44 are women, a percentage of 36.36%. The Bureau is composed of a Speaker, a First Deputy Speaker and a Second Deputy Speaker.

The Speaker : Right Hon. Pascal NYABENDA The 1st Deputy Speaker : Hon. Agathon RWASA, the 2nd Deputy Speaker : Hon. Edouard NDUWIMANA who was replaced by Hon. Jocky Chantal NKURUNZIZA on November 21, 2016. During that legislature, the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi was amended by referendum on June 07, 2018, thus modifying the periods of the ordinary parliamentary sessions.

The first session starts on the first working day of August, the second on the first working day of December and the third on the first working day of April, whereas previously, the first ordinary parliamentary session started on the first working day of February, the second on the first working day of June and the third ordinary parliamentary session on the first day of October. The budget year, which was used to start in January and end on 31 December, starts currently on 1st July and ends on 30th June of the following year.

Legislature 2020-2025

On Wednesday, May 20, 2020, presidential, legislative elections and the village advisors were held throughout the country, in accordance with the electoral calendar drawn up by the Independent National Electoral Commission, or CENI in acronym.

The elections took place in a calm and serene environment, in a democratic context marked by a multi-party system and a free and peaceful 3-week electoral campaign. The campaign was also marked by the candidacies of independents in both the presidential and legislative elections.

A total of 33 candidates, including 13 political parties, 2 coalitions and 18 independents, submitted their candidatures for the legislative elections. 28 candidatures were accepted by CENI, some for the whole country and others for certain provinces. When the results were announced, 3 political parties that had received 2% of the votes were allowed by CENI to sit in the National Assembly.
These are the parties :
CNDD-FDD with 68.02%,
CNL with 22.43%
UPRONA with 2.44%.

The CNDD-FDD party came first in the legislative elections with 72 seats, followed by the CNL party with 27 seats and UPRONA with 1 seat, making a total of 100 seats.

In the framework of the respect of ethnic and gender balance as stipulated by the Burundian Constitution and the Arusha Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Burundi, the CENI will co-opt 23 MPs with 3 MPs of the Twa ethnic group, the others will be of the Tutsi ethnic group, in accordance with article 108 of the electoral code.

In total, 123 MPs will sit in the lower house of parliament for the 2020-2025 legislature. On Friday August 7, 2020, the Bureau of the National Assembly was set up in a plenary session led by the oldest member, Hon. Venant SINZINKAYO. Thus, Hon. Gelase Daniel NDABIRABE, Hutu from Kayanza, was unanimously elected (90 votes) as the Speaker of the National Assembly. Hon. Sabine NTAKARUTIMANA, Hutu from Muyinga, was also unanimously elected (90 votes) as First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, while Hon. Abel GASHATSI, Tutsi from Muramvya, was elected as Second Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly with 86 votes FOR, 1 vote AGAINST and 3 ABSTAINTS.

At the very beginning of 2020 legislature, the Speaker of the National Assembly inculcated in the Members of Parliament and the staff a logic based on the sense of work well done and a good performance.

Thus, immediately after the establishment of the Bureau of the National Assembly, training in legislative drafting was organised for the MPs and staff of the National Assembly to enable them to carry out their duties with sufficient intellectual baggage. The 2020-2025 legislature is also marked by the institutional reform of the National Assembly for the proper functioning of its services.
In addition to the usual missions of the National Assembly which are the representation of People, the voting of laws and the control of the Government action, another mission of supporting the actions of Leta Mvyeyi, Leta Nkozi, Leta Nsenzi Government was also added by the Speaker of the National Assembly.

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