7 June 2018

Burundi's Nkurunziza to Step Down in 2020

Photo: Govt of Burundi
President Pierre Nkurunziza

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza said on Thursday he would not run for another term, despite widespread belief that he backed a new constitution extending term limits in a bid to cling to power.

"I will not go back on my word. Our mandate ends in 2020," Nkurunziza said in a speech to supporters and diplomats in the central region of Gitega.

His announcement came shortly after he signed into law a new constitution that could enable him to rule until 2034.

Describing himself as "Guide" of the ruling CNDD-FDD party, Nkurunziza said he would not seek re-election at the end of his current, controversial third term.

Nkurunziza's decision to run for election in 2015 plunged Burundi into a deep and deadly political crisis, with opponents saying his candidacy went against a peace deal that had ended more than a decade of civil war.

Last month a constitutional referendum was held to extend presidential terms to seven years.

It was widely seen as a move paving the way for Nkurunziza to run for a further two terms under the new dispensation.

"The new constitution has not been tailored for Pierre Nkurunziza, as our enemies claim," he said.

"As far as I am concerned, I am preparing to support, with all my strength, the new president who we are going to elect in 2020."

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