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Burundi moves to extend president’s rule in new proposed constitutional amendment

BY Tom Mugisha, tom.mugisha@alleastafrica.com

BUJUMBURA –  A new constitutional bill backed by the Burundi’s cabinet on Tuesday might allow its current president stay in office until 2034.

Under the current laws, a president is supposed to serve two five-year terms but the new bill seeks to abolish the two-term limit and lengthen presidential terms to seven years.

President Pierre Nkurunziza would be able to serve two consecutive terms of seven years each and also be eligible to seek re-election.
According to Reuters, the cabinet adopted the draft legislation seeking to amend the constitution on Tuesday.

Nkurunziza, who has been in office since 2005, won re-election in July 2015 in a ballot that critics said violated the constitution and the terms of an agreement signed in 2005 that ended a previous rebellion.

Nkurunziza’s backers insist that the country’s constitutional court had cleared him to run again, but some opponents took up arms against his rule and insecurity has plagued the country since.

The 2015 unrest gripped Burundi since April 2015, when he announced he was going to stand for a third term.  The violence has killed hundreds, left the economy moribund and forced about 400,000 people to seek safety in neighbouring countries.

This week, Burundi became the first country to leave the International Criminal Court. Burundi accuses ICC of targeting only Africans for prosecution.

The UN rights investigators and independent activists have accused government forces of widespread violations including forced disappearances, and of orchestrating a campaign of terror.

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