Burundi: Pierre Nkurunziza promises to step down in 2020

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Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza says he will step down as the country’s leader in 2020, despite recent constitutional changes that mean he could run for another two terms.

Following Burundi’s controversial referendum, Nkurunziza has legal precedent to run the country’s next two presidential elections with terms now extended to seven years from five. However, the 54-year-old insists he will step aside in 2020 and give his full support to a new leader elected by the people.

Knurunziza to step down in 2020

“I will not go back on my word. Our mandate ends in 2020,” President Nkurunziza told supporters and diplomats during a speech in Burundi’s central region of Gitega.

“This constitution was not modified to favour President Nkurunziza, as the enemies of the country spread recently,” he said during the televised address. “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.”

Fears have been mounting that Nkurunziza running for president in 2020 could spark a repeat of the same kind of violence seen in 2015 when he announced he would run for a third term in charge. The government pushed heavily for constitutional changes this year during a referendum campaign that attracted widespread criticism. Accusations of intimidation tactics and human rights abuses in the build-up to the vote continue to emerge although the government has denied any involvement.

On May 17, Burundi took to the polls with 73 percent of the country’s 4.3 million registered voters approving constitutional changes that extend presidential terms while allowing Nkurunziza to run for a further two terms in charge.

Featured image: By Copyright World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org)/Eric Miller, mailto:emiller@iafrica.com emiller@iafrica.com) – Pierre Nkurunziza – World Economic Forum on Africa 2008, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5685472

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.