Nkurunziza: I won’t run in 2020
NEW LAWS: Burundi leader pledges to leave o∞ce, calming politicians opposed to his extended rule
Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza has promised to step down when his term ends in 2020, easing fears of fresh violence in the country. President Nkurunziza had been widely expected to take advantage of recent changes to the constitution to stand for two more terms -- raising concerns that Burundi would see a repeat of the unrest that erupted after he stood for a third time in 2015. But, while promulgating the new Constitution he said: “My term is ending in 2020. This constitution was not modified for Pierre Nkurunziza... It was amended for the good and better future of Burundi.”
A JOINT REPORT
Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has promised to step down when his term ends in 2020, easing fears of fresh violence in the country.
President Nkurunziza had been widely expected to take advantage of recent changes to the Constitution to stand for two more terms — raising concerns that the country would see a repeat of the unrest that erupted after he stood for a third time in 2015.
But, while promulgating the new Constitution at Bugendana, Gitega Province, in the central part of the country, he said: “My term is ending in 2020. This Constitution was not modified for Pierre Nkurunziza as the country’s enemies have been saying. It was amended for the good and better future of Burundi and the Burundian people.”
President Nkurunziza promised to continue working for his country even after leaving office.
Opposition politicians who had accused him of trying to cling to power gave the statement a guarded welcome.
“I think he just wants to calm internal public opinion and the international community,” said Léonce Ngendakumana, deputy chairman of the opposition Frodebu group.
Opponents had accused President Nkurunziza of going against the Constitution and the terms of a peace deal that ended an ethnically charged civil war. Thousands fled violence that erupted after protests and a failed coup.
Last month, voters approved changes to the Constitution, which would theoretically allow President Nkurunziza to stay in power until 2034.
The opposition said the vote was marred by intimidation and fraud — a charge the government denied. Rights groups also raised the alarm.
But, last week Thursday, President Nkurunziza said he would support whoever replaced him in 2020.
The former rebel leader first came to power in 2005 at the end of Burundi’s civil war, which left at least 300,000 people dead.
If he steps down, he will be the first Burundian president to peacefully hand over power.
After promulgating the Constitution, which introduces many political and administrative changes, all focus is on the Burundian leader, with many waiting to see how he will constitute the government. The new laws allow for the appointment of a prime minister and only one vice-president.
The law also reviews the country’s administrative procedures, including the reading of budget from December to July.
Article 182 of the new Constitution says that the financial year starts on July 1 and ends on June 30 of the next year.
“If the national assembly has not pronounced on the date of June 30, the previous year’s budget is taken up by provisional twelfths,” reads the article.
President Nkurunziza said he will not vie for office in 2020 despite the new Constitution allowing him to remain in power until 2034.