Burundian Court Backs President’s Third TermMay 6, 2015 in Burundi
On Tuesday, Burundi’s constitutional court confirmed that the country’s president Pierre Nkurunziza can run for a third term in office, a decision that has led to renewed protests in the capital.
Under the current constitution, presidents can only be elected to two terms in office, however supporters of President Nkurunziza argued that his first term, which was appointed by parliament, does not count. The constitutional court’s vice president had earlier reportedly fled the country, citing “death threats.” Reports have indicated that while Sylvere Nipagaritse disclosed that most of his colleagues believed that the third term was unconstitutional, they were under pressure to change their minds. The president’s spokesman, Gervais Abayeho, however has denied these reports, stating that there were no threats or pressure placed on the judges. He further disclosed that their discussions were private so there was no way that individuals could be singled out for their views.
Shortly after the constitutional court made its ruling on Tuesday, more than five hundred protesters went to the streets of Musaga, which is a southern suburb of the capital Bujumbura. On the ground sources disclosed that three people were killed in protests in Musaga on Monday. Live rounds have also been fired near the US embassy at people demonstrating against the third-term bid. Further protests in the capital and across the country are likely to continue over the coming days. The presidential elections are due to take place next month.
The court’s approval of a third term in office comes just days after United States Secretary of State John Kerry urged President Nkurunziza to abandon his re-election bid. Speaking to reporters Monday during a visit to Kenya, Mr Kerry stated, “we are deeply concerned about President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision, which flies directly in the face of the constitution of this country.”