Burundi suspends NGOs over laws on same sex marriage


Burundi suspends NGOs over laws on same sex marriage
Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza signs the new constitution at the presidential palace in Gitega Province, Burundi June 7, 2018. REUTERS/Evrard Ngendakumana

In Summary

  • There are some 130 international NGO’s in Burundi.
  • The President's spokesman said some NGO’s promote “same sex marriages, and this is against our culture”.
  • This month, Senator Anicet Niyongabo said authorities would investigate NGO's hiring practices.

Burundi has suspended some local and international non-governmental organisations for violating a new law and promoting same sex marriages.

The suspension will be three months, a government official said on Thursday.

The move could deepen opposition concerns that a crackdown by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government is being extended.

Silas Ntigurirwa, secretary of the National Security Council, gave no details or identity of the groups provisionally suspended from October 1.

There are some 130 international NGO’s in Burundi.

“After analysing how non-governmental organisations carry out their activities nationwide, the National Security Council came to the conclusion that most of them don’t comply with the law,” Ntigurirwa said.

“The resumption of activities shall be determined by their conformity with the new law regulating NGO’s,” he said, referring to a law passed last year. Though Ntigurirwa mentioned the 2017 law, he gave no details of the violations.

Presidential spokesman Jean Claude Karerwa said on local radio on Friday that some NGO’s promote “same sex marriages, and this is against our culture”.

This month, Senator Anicet Niyongabo said authorities would investigate NGO’s hiring practices.

He added that recruitment of their Burundian staff should comply with the ethnic and gender balances set out in the constitution.

“The law requires the recruitment of local staff at 60 percent Hutu and 40 percent Tutsi,” Niyongabo said.

The two ethnic groups have a history of political rivalry. A long civil war in which 300,000 people died ended in 2005 which was fought along ethnic lines.

Burundi, a small, landlocked country in East Africa, has a similar ethnic make-up to its neighbour Rwanda.

In May, a referendum approved a change to the constitution that makes it possible for Nkurunzinza to stay in power until 2034.

Violence surged in 2015 when Nkurunziza said he would seek a third term: many saw this as a breach of the constitution.

He won a subsequent election but the decision to stand sparked protests and a crackdown.

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