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Burundi court ruling on party schism 'sets dangerous precedent': HRW report

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] Tuesday denounced a recent Burundi [CIA backgrounder] Constitutional Court decision to dismiss 22 former members of the ruling party from the National Assembly, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (NCDD-FDD) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. The Constitutional Court ruled that the 22 former NCDD-FDD members should be expelled from the National Assembly since they no longer represented the party under which they were elected. The 22 former party members had split from the main body of the party and gone into opposition after a factional power struggle that started in 2007 and has impeded the Assembly's work. HRW condemned the decision [HRW statement], saying that it "sets a dangerous precedent for future political life" in Burundi. HRW also reported in its statement that "Burundian jurists, members of opposition parties, representatives of civil society, religious leaders, and the Bashingantahe (a council of respected elders) criticized the court’s decision as a deliberate and politically influenced interpretation of the constitution which could lead to future rights violations." AFP has more.

Burundi is still recovering from a 12-year civil war [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] between the Hutu majority and the dominant Tutsi minority which began in 1993 and claimed more than 300,000 victims. Current Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza BBC profile], an ex-Hutu rebel leader and NCDD-FDD member, was elected in 2005 after the implementation of a UN-created peace plan, but his presidency has been marred by accusations of assassinations and torture [JURIST report].

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