, BUJUMBURA, Burundi, May 8 – Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza filed his candidacy to run for a third term in power on Friday, saying elections will “go well” despite days of deadly protests at his controversial bid.
“These demonstrations have turned into insurrection, but it is something that will be controlled shortly, and I assure you that the elections will go well,” Nkurunziza said, as he handed over the documents needed to the electoral commission, surrounded by his supporters.
At least 18 people have been killed and scores wounded since late April, when the ruling CNDD-FDD nominated Nkurunziza to stand for reelection, triggering daily protests.
Opposition parties and civil society groups say Nkurunziza’s third-term bid violates both the constitution, which limits a president to two terms in office, and the accords that ended a 13-year civil war between Tutsis and Hutus in 2006.
But the constitutional court has found in favour of Nkurunziza, saying his first presidential term did not count as he was elected by parliament, not directly by the people.
The court’s vice-president, however, fled the country after refusing to sign the ruling, claiming judges had been subjected to death threats.
Nkurunziza, dressed in a grey suit without a tie, smiled at supporters, saying that the current crisis was “nothing compared to what we experienced in 1993-1994”, referring to the start of the civil war.
“It is something which concerns only some areas of Bujumbura… in the rest of the country people go quietly about their work, more than 99 percent of the territory of Burundi is at peace,” he said.
Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader from the Hutu majority who has been in power since 2005, has come under intense international pressure to withdraw from the June 26 election.