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Burundian ‘Generals At Loggerheads’ Over Nkurunziza’s Successor

The government inner circle, comprising of powerful military generals from the ethnic Hutu is yet to agree on who should takeover as president.

Just days after the death of President Pierre Nkurunziza, a power struggle has reportedly emerged among Burundi’s political and military elite, with fears that the country could slide back to turmoil.

The government inner circle, comprising of powerful military generals from the ethnic Hutu, is yet to agree on who should takeover as president, according to an insider who spoke to this website from Bujumbura.

The “Generals’ club”, rumored to have welded power behind Nkurunziza, who died Tuesday from a heart attack is  reportedly ripped into camps: for President-elect Evariste Ndayishimiye and Pascal Nyabenda, the speaker of the national assembly.

Burundi top officials are divided between president-elect Everest Ndiyishimiye (left) and National Assembly Speaker Pascal Nyabenda.

It is this very group that rejected Nkurunziza’s choice for Nyabenda as his preferred successor and instead forced through Ndiyishimiye, who won the May 20 poll by 69%.  But sources say some generals have switched interests under the circumstance.

An extraordinary cabinet meeting was summoned Thursday to discuss a way forward. However the meeting did not have conclusive outcomes.

“At the end of the day, it is not the cabinet to decide,” the source said, adding that a way forward will be announced once the top military club reaches a compromise.

Under Burundi’s constitution, when a president dies in office before handing over power, the speaker of parliament takes over and organizes a fresh election.

However the country finds itself in an unusual situation, as a newly-elected president is waiting to be sworn in on August 20.

A self-declared supporter of Ndayishimiye, who works in Burundi’s foreign ministry told this website on anonymity that this provision as inapplicable under the circumstances.

“We are not dealing with a normal situation here,” she said adding that “it is not about the law, but the safety and stability of Burundi.”

It is not clear where this leads Burundi, a country recovering from a long civil war and a spiral of unrest .

Government spokesperson Prosper Ntahorwamiy was quoted by the BBC on Wednesday as saying that the stalemate would be resolved the constitutional court.

“We are consulting the constitutional court. It is studying the power vacancy, it will take a few days,” he said.

French news agency AFP reported Thursday that Burundi’s two vice presidents and cabinet ministers have already approached the constitutional court to declare the presidency vacant.

The agency also said that the government seemed to be leaning towards a swift swearing-in of the president-elect.

“Things are changing because after intense discussions they may finally opt for the strict respect of the constitution with an interim led by the speaker,” the Agency reported quoting a source on anonymity.