Burundi unrest over election bid

Published: Monday 27th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Streets protests have hit Burundi as anger swelled over the ruling party’s decision to nominate President Pierre Nkurunziza for a third term, which many say is unconstitutional.

Hundreds of demonstrators erected barricades and set tires alight in different neighbourhoods of Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital, and some clashed with armed police.

The military was deployed on the streets after violent clashes yesterday.

Presidential elections are scheduled for June 26, and political tensions have been rising since the start of the year amid fears of election violence.

Burundi’s constitution says the president “is elected by universal direct suffrage for a mandate of five years renewable one time”, but Mr Nkurunziza’s supporters say he is eligible to serve a third term because he was first installed as president in 2005 by parliament to lead a transitional government, and not by a popular vote.

He won the 2010 election as the sole candidate. Opposition members boycotted, saying they feared it would be rigged.

The 2003 Arusha Peace Accord ended Burundi’s civil war that was fought mainly between Hutu rebels and a Tutsi-dominated army. More than 250,000 people died.

Those who oppose Mr Nkurunziza, an ethnic Hutu, running for a third term include members of his own party, lawmakers, the clergy, student groups and civil society.

More than 10,000 Burundians have fled to neighbouring Rwanda, with many citing pressure to support Mr Nkurunziza’s party, known by its initials CNDD-FDD.

Others alleged violence by the ruling party’s youth wing, known as Imbonerakure, according to the UN refugee agency.

Human Rights Watch has accused the Imbonerakure of committing serious rights abuses.

Published: Monday 27th April 2015 by The News Editor

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