Tags: burundi | election | Pierre Nkurunziza | civil war

Burundi Leader Vows to Seek Third Term Despite Unrest

Thursday, 07 May 2015 05:57 AM

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza said he would seek re-election for a third term after receiving backing from the country’s Constitutional Court, as an opposition leader called for a delay in the vote.

Protests over Nkurunziza’s plan to extend his decade-long rule continued on Thursday in the capital, Bujumbura. The demonstrations erupted on April 26 after the ruling party nominated him to run in June elections, which opponents say violates a two-term limit stipulated in peace accords that ended a 12-year civil war in 2005.

The Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday that the 51-year-old leader is eligible to run.

"We note the judgment of the Constitutional Court in its entirety and we are committed to it," Nkurunziza said in a statement published on the presidency’s website. "If the people of Burundi show confidence in us again, it will be the last mandate, as stipulated by the judgment."

The unrest in Burundi is stoking fears of a return to conflict if rebel groups abandon the agreements that ended the civil war, in which 300,000 people were killed. It also has the potential to destabilize the Great Lakes region that includes the Democratic Republic of Congo, the world’s biggest source of cobalt and Africa’s top copper producer.

Leonard Nyangoma, a Burundian opposition leader who lives in exile in France, said Burundi should postpone elections so that authorities can restore security. The ruling party’s youth wing, known as Imbonerakure, must be disarmed before elections that should be organized by a transitional government and a "neutral" electoral committee, Nyangoma said in a statement.

East African Community (EAC) leaders plan to meet next week to discuss the situation. Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo on Tuesday expressed concern over the violence and said foreign countries may need to intervene to restore order.

Opposition leader Audifax Ndabitoreye said he was briefly detained by authorities on Wednesday after attending a meeting involving EAC foreign ministers at a hotel in the capital. In a phone interview early Thursday, Ndabitoreye said intelligence officers released him after foreign diplomats intervened.

As many as 40,000 Burundians have fled to neighboring Rwanda, Tanzania and Congo since the start of April, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. The UN special envoy to the Great Lakes region has held talks with the government to try to defuse tensions. At least nine people have died in the protests.

Burundi holds 6 percent of the world’s nickel reserves, according to the African Development Bank. Kermas Group, a London-based investment company, is developing a mine at Musongati in southeastern Burundi, which ranks as one of the 10 largest known deposits of the metal.

Heineken NV owns a majority stake in Bujumbura-based Brarudi SA, Burundi’s biggest brewer.

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Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza said he would seek re-election for a third term after receiving backing from the country's Constitutional Court, as an opposition leader called for a delay in the vote.
burundi, election, Pierre Nkurunziza, civil war
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2015-57-07
Thursday, 07 May 2015 05:57 AM
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