Burundian authorities have refused to register a new political party by main opposition leader Agathon Rwasa, according to a letter seen by AFP on Thursday.
Rwasa had attempted to create a new party, the National Freedom Front – Hope of the Burundians (FNL – Amizero y’Abarundi), after a new constitution adopted by referendum in May which no longer allows a coalition of independent candidates to run in an election.
The former Hutu rebel leader’s current coalition, named Amizero y’Abarundi, won 17 percent of the vote in the 2015 parliamentary polls, making it the main rival to the ruling CnDD-FDD.
A letter from the interior ministry to Rwasa said the request to register the party ahead of polls in 2020 was denied over the similarity of its acronym, emblem and slogan to “a party that is already registered”.
This is an apparent reference to the National Liberation Forces (FNL), a former rebel group under Rwasa that transformed into a political party and removed him from his role as leader in 2011.
“Agathon Rwasa merely has to follow the law and … choose a new name and a new emblem which does not resemble those already registered and his party will be approved,” an interior ministry source told AFP.
Burundi has been locked in crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza in April 2015 announced he would seek a controversial third term in office, sparking civil unrest that has left 1,200 dead and over 400 000 displaced.
Constitutional reforms adopted in May after a referendum open the way for Nkurunziza to seek another two terms in office in 2020, however he has assured he will not do so.