Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza can run for a third term, to the country’s constitutional court has declared.
Under the constitution, presidents can only be elected to two terms in office but it was argued that his first term does not count as he was appointed by parliament.
His third-term bid has led to more than a week of deadly protests. The dramatic announcement comes only hours after police shot dead four protesters in the central African country where violence has left at least 13 dead in just over a week.
The court’s decision comes after the court’s vice-president reportedly fled the country yesterday citing “death threats”. Judge Sylvere Nimpagaritse said the court’s judges had come under “enormous pressure and even death threats” from senior figures, which he refused to name, to rubber-stamp the disputed candidacy of Nkurunziza.
Mr Nimpagaritse says that most of the court’s judges think it is unconstitutional, but they were under pressure to change their minds.
Following the announcement, a lot of wild street demonstration which have already claimed several lives and displaced thousands are likely to intensify.
Her neighbors and the international community have already has expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in Burundi, saying, “Increasing reports of unrest and violence targeting unarmed civilians are particularly worrying.”
Rwanda, which is currently accommodating at least 10,000 refugees from Burundi, on Monday stopped short of saying she could intervene as the situation gets out of hand.
“While we respect Burundi’s sovereignty in addressing internal matters, Rwanda considers the safety of innocent population as a regional and international responsibility,” said Rwandan Foreihn Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.
“Rwanda urges the Government of Burundi to take immediate necessary steps to ensure the protection of its population, end the worsening humanitarian situation and restore peace.”