Why Burundi's fragile peace and stability is at risk

Burundian youth demonstrate in Musaga on the outskirts of the capital Bujumbura on April 28.

Rene-Claude Niyonkuru is a researcher with a focus on policy and conflict management. He has an academic background in Law and Governance and Development and has extensively worked with/for civil society in Burundi for the last 15 years, especially for the Association for Peace and Human Rights. The expressions in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)Burundians have taken to the streets from April 25, just one day after president Pierre Nkurunziza was designated by his political party CNDD-FDD to run for the 2015 presidential election. This came as no surprise, given the dubious stands expressed by official spokespersons at the president's office.

"Now I break the silence," the incumbent announced to an audience of 1,200 party officials. More or less 90 % of the participants had been convened to cast their votes in his favor, a decision that is seen to have the potential to put the country on the brink.

Legality vs legitimacy or none of them?

    The political opposition and civil society leading figures are deeply disappointed by such a decision, which is said to be in contradiction with the content of the Constitution of Burundi. They indeed stress articles 96 and 302 of the Constitution which rule that no president will serve more than two terms in office. These two articles, a mirror-image of another disposition contained in the Arusha Peace Accord, limit the number of maximum presidential terms to two with five years each.
      Rene-Claude Niyonkuru
      It seems the reason was that negotiators cocluded that 10 years were more than enough for a president to be in office. But time and again, the president's many spokespersons had all continued to say that his decision would be taken timely.
      Nkurunziza, a born-again Christian, believes he is president by the will of God, whereas a large number of citizens progressively believe he is not really up to the task, despite his popularity in rural areas.

      Time has come to say no

      The president and his entourage never believed that serious and lasting peaceful protests would take place. In such a regimented society, as is the case of Burundi, people hardly voice out their disgust, and the few who dare to do so are frequently harassed and arrested in both legal and illegal ways.
      Nkurunziza could not imagine that the populace would scream their noisy protests in vast cohorts blocking car traffic, and decided to confront the announced ire.
      However, despite a heavy presence of an angry and disproportionately equipped police, the president is being bluntly asked by the hungry, jobless and still energized mixed youth to quit.
      It is new to watch both ethnic groups -- Hutus and Tutsis -- coming together after decades of suffering under successive regimes who apparently had only taught them to clap their hands and to vote for their fellow from same ethnic origin.
      Surprisingly, Nkurunziza's team explains this reaction as a residual reluctance from Tutsi to accept a rule of Hutu, while many international and national observers gradually find that a number of plausible sound factors are fueling this act of protestation that can even soon take place nationwide.
      Demonstration in the southern commune of Musaga on April 30.

      Lack of social and institutional capacity

      Yet, the demonstrations have been foreseeable, the long-awaited outcome of the current status of a frustrated and disappointed political opposition following the many judicial decisions to disband party formations and deprive them of their true leaders.
      The ruling party has also kept a watchful eye on the combatants that fought in the CNDD- FDD ra