UN chief criticises Burundi leader’s fourth term bid

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has criticised Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza’s plans to run for a fourth term in power.

The Burundi leader is pushing for constitutional changes that will allow him to run for another term in the country’s 2020 presidential election. However, UN chief Guterres said the government must ensure opposition and society groups are fairly represented in any decision to change the constitution.

UN chief calls for ‘inclusive’ discussions

“While it is the sovereign right of Burundi to amend its constitution,” Guterres said, in a report sent to the UN Security Council, “I strongly believe that such an important undertaking must be conducted in an inclusive manner that seeks to achieve a maximum possible participation and consensus among the key political stakeholders.”

Nkurunziza’s announcement that he would run for a third term in Burundi’s previous election sparked a bitter civil conflict in April 2015. The government has largely overcome all opposition efforts now but severe human rights violations continue to be prevalent in the country.

Concern remains that opposition groups could rally once again if Nkurunziza runs for a fourth term and UN chief Guterres is calling for inclusive discussions over the prospect of changing the constitution to minimise the risk of further violence.

Guterres also said he was “deeply concerned” by the breakdown in talks between the Burundi government and opposition groups.

“Durable peace comes with addressing the underlying root causes of the crisis, not by jeopardizing the foundations of relative normalcy, such as the Arusha Agreement, which brought a decade of peace to the country,” he said.

Featured image: By U.S. Mission Photo by Eric Bridiers – https://www.flickr.com/photos/us-mission/7704332996/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31838918