US warns third term bid a threat to Burundi’s stability

President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza. Image source defenceweb

President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza. Image source defenceweb

President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid to win a third term “seriously undermines Burundi’s stability” and violates the Arusha Agreement that brought its 13-year civil war to an end, the US said late Monday.

“Any violation of Arusha seriously undermines Burundi’s stability,” the statement issued by the US embassy in Bujumbura said.

More than a month of street protests in the tiny central African nation have killed at least 30 people. Nkurunziza has so far ignored calls for him to withdraw from a presidential vote later this month.

The US urged Nkurunziza “to reconsider his bid to retain power at the expense of the Arusha Agreement and Burundi’s hard-earned stability after a tragic civil war.”

Burundi’s opposition and rights groups say the president’s third-term bid violates a constitutional two-term limit as well as the Arusha peace deal.

Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader from the Hutu majority and a born-again Christian, insists he has every right to stand again because he was elected to his first term by parliament, not directly by the people.

Burundi’s parliamentary elections are currently scheduled to take place on June 5 while the presidential election is slated for June 26.

The US statement came after regional heads of state held a summit on Burundi’s political crisis in Tanzania’s economic capital Dar es Salaam at the weekend, which asked that elections be delayed until mid-July.

The US added its voice to those calling for elections to be postponed.

“The conditions for free, fair, transparent and credible elections do not currently exist due to the closure of political space, the shutting down of independent media, the government’s violent response to political protests, and continuing reports of violence and intimidation by an armed youth militia of the ruling party,” the US said.

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