Burundi’s president announced yesterday he will not run for another term, even as he put in place a new constitution that would allow him to stay in power until 2034.
Speaking in the Kirundi language, President Pierre Nkurunziza told supporters: “We assure Burundians and the international community. Our term will end in 2020. This constitution was not modified to favour President Nkurunziza, as the enemies of the country spread recently. I swear and am really ready, with all my heart, with all my mind and with all my strength, to support the new president we will elect in 2020.”
He added: “A man can change his position in the bed, but he cannot change his word.”
Deadly political violence and a failed coup attempt followed Nkurunziza’s decision in 2015 to pursue a third term, which critics called unconstitutional. More than 1,200 people were killed and hundreds of thousands fled the East African nation, and last year International Criminal Court judges authorized an investigation into allegations of state-sponsored crimes.
More than 73 percent of Burundi’s 4.7 million voters in a referendum last month approved changes to the constitution, promoted by Nkurunziza, which extended the length of the president’s term from five years to seven.