Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Burundi president says he will not seek new term

Burundi president says he will not seek new term

Burundi's long-serving President Pierre Nkurunziza announced on Thursday that he would not run for another term, easing fears of new violence in the impoverished country after a referendum on term limits.

"I am ready, with all my heart and all my intelligence, to support the one who will be the new president in 2020, " Mr Nkurunziza said, who has been in power since 2005, at a ceremony in central Gitega province".

More than 1,200 people were killed and hundreds of thousands fled the East African nation, and previous year International Criminal Court judges authorized an investigation into allegations of state-sponsored crimes. "My term is ending in 2020".

Many people in Burundi believed the referendum had been orchestrated by the ruling party to ensure Mr Nkurunziza's grip on power.

The opposition, who denounced the new constitution as a contradiction to the Arusha peace agreement signed in 2000, which had established a sharing of political and ethnic power, are likely to be skeptical of Nkurunziza's announcement.

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

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But on Thursday Nkurunziza said that was not his plan.

"This constitution was not modified for Pierre Nkurunziza as the country's enemies have been saying".

"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".

"It remains to be seen how honest he is because he is the one who launched the revision of the constitution and said he would be willing to run again if the people demanded it".

The violence that erupted in 2015 shook a region still haunted by the 1994 genocide in Burundi's neighbour, Rwanda.

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

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