BUJUMBURA, Burundi, May 7 – Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza insisted Wednesday he would run for a controversial third term in elections set for June, defying international pressure to refrain from trying to extend his rule, despite deadly protests.
“If the people of Burundi put their trust in us, it will be the last mandate I seek, as determined by the Constitutional Court,” Nkurunziza said in a televised speech.
Holding an election was “the only solution” to the crisis triggered by his bid to prolong his 10-year tenure, he added.
Over a dozen people have been killed and scores wounded since late April, when the ruling CNDD-FDD nominated Nkurunziza to stand for reelection, triggering daily protests.
The police has been accused of using live ammunition in clashes with protesters in the capital Bujumbura.
Over 35,000 Burundians have fled the country in recent weeks, mostly to Rwanda.
Opposition parties and civil society groups say Nkurunziza’s third-term quest 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.
The Constitutional Court found in favour of the rebel leader-turned-president in a ruling Tuesday, saying his first presidential term did not count as he was elected by parliament, not directly by the people.