NAIROBI, Kenya, May 4 – US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Monday that the bid by Burundi’s president to run for a third term in power goes against the constitution, calling for calm after days of protests.
“We are deeply concerned about President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision, which flies directly in the face of the constitution of this country,” Kerry told reporters in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
At least 12 people have been killed in more than a week of demonstrations in Burundi.
The small central African country has been rocked by violent protests since the ruling CNDD-FDD party designated Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader and born-again Christian from the Hutu majority, as its candidate in presidential elections due to be held on June 26.
Nkurunziza has been in power since 2005. His supporters, however, say he is eligible to run again, since his first term in office followed his election by parliament – not directly by the people as the constitution specifies.
“It is my understanding that an Africa Union delegation will go there soon to meet with him to try to underscore the importance… of the constitution of the country,” Kerry added.
“And it is our hope in the United States that ultimately that is what will happen and the people of Burundi will be given the choice that their constitution promises them.”
Following a two-day truce over the weekend, hundreds of protesters gathered in a suburb of the capital Bujumbura Monday, shouting at police, who have for days blocked roads in a bid to prevent demonstrators from moving into the centre of the city.