Burundi: Constitution

Updated June 2010

CONSTITUTION Transitional until 31 October 2004, extended until 30 April 2005[1]. Post-Transitional Constitution approved by referendum held on 28 February 2005[2]
FORM OF STATE Republic[3]
HEAD OF STATE The President is Head of State, government and of the security forces, is elected for a tenure of office is five years and is eligible for two terms; the president must be at least 35 years old[4]. The President is elected by universal suffrage by an absolute majority[5]. The first post-transitional period President was elected by the National Assembly and the Senate sitting together as Congress with a two-thirds majority required and was not empowered to dissolve Parliament[6]
EXECUTIVE Executive power lies with the President, two Vice-Presidents and the members of the government[7].
The Vice-Presidents are appointed by the President, ratified by the National Assembly and by the Senate, and may be removed from office by the President; they must belong to different ethnic groups and different political parties[8]. The First Vice-president is responsible for the coordination of the political and administrative domain and the Second Vice-president of the economic and social domain[9].
The ministers of the government are appointed by the President in consultation with the Vice-Presidents, the cabinet must consist of 60% Hutus, 40% Tutsis and a minimum of 30% women and must include members of different parties in proportion to their members in the National Assembly; government may be removed by 2/3 majority in National assembly[10].
LEGISLATURE The legislature is a bicameral Parliament that consists of the National Assembly and the Senate[11].
Members are elected to the National Assembly by proportional representation from multi-ethnic party lists and a minimum of 2% of the votes must be obtained for representation[12]. The National Assembly must have 60% Hutu and 40% Tutsi members, of which at least 30 % are women, elected by universal adult suffrage for a five year term; three members of the Twa ethnic group are co-opted[13].
The Senate is composed primarily of 2 members per province, one from each ethnic group, elected by colleges of members of the Commune Councils, but three Twa members are co-opted and former Presidents are ex officio members[14]. The Senate must thus consist of half Tutsi and half Hutu members and in additional at least 30% of the members must be women[15]. The term of the Senate is five years.
Co-option of members is executed by the Independent Electoral Commission to ensure that the Twa are represented and that the constitutionally mandated ethnic and gender balances are attained[16].
JUDICIARY The judiciary is comprised of the Supreme Court with jurisdiction over ordinary matters of law, the Constitutional Court with jurisdiction over issues of the state and the Constitution, the High Court of Justice (which is the two previous courts sitting together) and subordinate courts and tribunals[17]. The judges of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court are appointed by the President, the first from names submitted by the Minister of Justice after consultation with the Superior Council of the Judiciary and the approval of the Senate and the second with the approval of the Senate only[18].
AMENDMENTS Amendments to the Constitution require a three-quarters majority of the National Assembly, a two-thirds majority of the Senate and a majority in a national referendum[19].
DEMOCRACY PROTECTION AGENCIES The Ombudsman investigates violations of civil rights by state officials[20]

Footnotes

[1] Acte Constitutionnel de Transition 1998.
[2] Constitution Post-Transition de la Republique du Burundi 2005.
[3] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Article 1. Article 4 provides for the reestablishment of the monarchy by a popular referendum and allows monarchist parties to exist that campaign peacefully for the monarchy's restoration.
[4] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Articles 95, 108, 110, 96, 97(3).
[5] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Article 102. If an absolute majority is not obtained in a first ballot a second ballot round must be held within 15 days with the two candidates with the most votes in the first round competing with one another. Should one of the two withdraw, then the third highest candidate is eligible to stand etc. If the presidency becomes vacant a new election must be held between one and three months of the vacancy arising (Article 121).
[6] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Article 302. Presidents of the transitional period were not eligible for election as president in the first post-transitional election (Article 301).
[7] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Article 92.
[8] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Articles 123, 124.
[9] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Article 122.
[10] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Articles 108, 129, 203. Parties that obtained less than 5% of the vote are not eligible for cabinet membership. Ministers dismissed by the President must be replaced in consultation with the relevant political party. The ministers of Defence and of Police must be of different ethnic groups (Article 130).
[11] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Article 147.
[12] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Article 168, 169. For every three candidates on a list only two may have the same ethnicity and for every four candidates at least one must be a woman. Articles 98, 168 and 169 provide that lists of independent candidates may also be submitted.
[13] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Article 164.
[14] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Article 180.
[15] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Article 180.
[16] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Articles 164, 180; Reyntjens 2005,126-128.
[17] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Articles 205, 221, 222, 225, 226, 233.
[18] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Articles 222, 226.
[19] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Articles 297-300.
[20] Constitution Post-Transition 2005, Article 237.

References

ACTE CONSTITUTIONNEL DE TRANSITION 1998.

CONSTITUTION POST-TRANSITION DE LA REPUBLIQUE DU BURUNDI 2005 [www] http://www.chanrobles.com/burundi1.html [opens new window] (accessed 25 May 2010).

REYNTJENS, F 2006 "Briefing: Burundi: A peaceful transition after a decade of war?" African Affairs, 105(418), 117-135.

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