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Burundi: President Nkurunziza confirms third term bid despite protests


SomaNet News Archive

(By Estera Popowska)

Defying international pressure to refrain from trying to extend his rule, Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza insisted Wednesday he would run for a controversial third term in elections set for June, AFP reported.

“If the people of Burundi put their trust in us, it will be the last mandate I seek, as determined by the Constitutional Court,” Nkurunziza said in a televised speech.

President Nkurunziza  reportedly said holding an election was “the only solution” to the crisis triggered by his bid to prolong his 10-year tenure.

Meanwhile, in  a renewed protests against the Burundian president's attempt to extend his rule to a third term, police reportedly opened fire on demonstrators killing three people on Monday in the capital Bujumbura, VOA reported.

At least 15 people have been killed in more than a week of protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term in next month's elections. Protesters have vowed to continue street demonstrations until the president changes his mind.

Hundreds of protesters, some carrying placards with slogans such as “No to violence” and “Respect the Arusha accord and the constitution,” sang the national anthem as riot police watched.

The unrest began on April 26 after Nkurunziza announced his bid to run for a third term, a move that critics said violates the constitution and the 2000 Arusha accord that helped end Burundi's civil war.

On Tuesday, a statement from Uganda’s State House issued  said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked Ugandan President Museveni to intervene and help avert a degeneration of the political crisis in Burundi sparked off by its leader Pierre Nkurunziza’s move to extend his stay in power.

Daily Monitor says the UN's  request came hours before the Burundian Constitutional Court cleared President Nkurunziza to contest for a third term as president.

“The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appealed to President Yoweri Museveni to help avert the deteriorating situation in Burundi and restore peace,” the statement said.

On Monday, a senior Burundian judge, Sylvere Nimpagaritse, fled the country, saying judges were under “enormous pressure and death threats” from senior government figures to rubberstamp the controversial presidential candidature.

Mr Ki-moon was meeting Ugandan President Museveni on the sidelines of the UN high level debate on UN cooperation with regional and sub-regional organisations in the maintenance of global peace and security for development (Agencies).