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Tutsi parties decry vote for new constitution

Burundi's Tutsi-dominated parties said on Monday that a vote by parliament approving a new constitution violated the transitional constitution as well as a peace accord reached in Arusha, Tanzania, to end Burundi's civil war.

The main Tutsi-dominated Union pour le progrès national (UPRONA) and its Tutsi allies are to ask the country's constitutional court to "invalidate the results of the vote", Jean Baptiste Manwangari, UPRONA party chairman, said at a news conference.

He said their request would be officially lodged before the end of the week.

The Senate and National Assembly, meeting jointly in an extraordinary session on Friday voted with an overwhelming majority in favour of the draft constitution. But some legislators boycotted the vote, saying the head of state did not have the legal right to summon the extraordinary session of the two chambers.

Ministers from the Tutsi-dominated parties also boycotted a Council of Ministers meeting held in August to discuss implementing the draft constitution.

"Time is running out," Domitien Ndayizeye, the Burundian president, told the nation on Friday after the vote. "I am fulfilling my responsibility as the head of state to ready the constitution," he said.

He added that he was trying to avoid the anarchy that could result from the absence of elected institutions once the transitional period ends on 1 November.

The draft constitution stipulates that if there are no elected institutions at the end of the transitional period, the transitional government should remain in place. The constitution is based on the Pretoria accord signed by most of the country's political parties on 6 August that was mediated by South African Vice-President Jacob Zuma.

Some of the Tutsi-dominated parties that refused to sign the accord allege that it has not taken into account their proposed draft constitution that would, Manwangari said, "serve as the basis for real dialogue".

A national referendum on the draft constitution is due to take place on 20 October.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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