In a surprise inauguration held this morning, Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza has announced that he will take office for a third term. This follows last month’s disputed elections, which were boycotted by the opposition and sparked widespread unrest.
Nkurunziza took the “oath for a new term of five years”, the presidency said in a statement. His previous tenure was slated to end on August 26.
Nkurunziza’s decision to stand for the presidency for a third consecutive term in late April this year prompted weeks of protest in the Burundian capital Bujumbura, in which security forces and protestors opposed to the bid met with violent clashes. In mid-May, a coup was attempted but failed. As of 19 August, 186,334 civilians have fled to neighbouring states since the outbreak of violence. Civilians fear a reignition of the decades long civil war that left 300,000 dead in 1994-2006.
Burundi’s constitution allows a president to be elected twice – for a total of 10 years in power. Before these polls Nkurunziza argued he had only been directly elected by the people once, as his first term of office did not follow a general election.
Our partner, local early warning network INAMA, has been following events closely, and you can track our Burundi coverage here. We would like to take this opportunity to repeat our previous calls for peace in Burundi. We ask all sides involved to work together and build a constructive settlement, and to avoid the divisions that might lead to renewed civil war.