Burundi president sworn in for third term

Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has taken the oath of office “for a new term of five years” in a surprise ceremony ahead of an August 26 deadline, when his previous mandate ends, according to presidential communications chief Willy Nyamitwe.

The opposition condemned his third-term bid as unconstitutional and provoked months of protests. Rebel generals attempted a coup in mid-May, which failed.

The United Nations observer mission said the vote last month was not “inclusive free and credible” and was held “in an environment of profound mistrust” between political rivals.

Nkurunziza won 69.41% of the vote, an immediate first-round victory.

Burundi’s Constitution only allows a president to be elected twice – for a total of 10 years in power – but Nkurunziza said before these polls that he had only been elected directly by the people once. He was selected by Parliament in 2005 and elected in 2010.

Nkurunziza, a 51-year-old former sports teacher and born-again Christian, was a Hutu rebel leader during the central African country’s 13-year civil war, when at least 300 000 people were killed.

Top international envoys from the UN, African Union, European Union, Belgium and the United States have called on all sides to “recommit to a transparent, inclusive and comprehensive political dialogue”.

AU chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Sunday called for “utmost restraint” by all sides, warning of potential “catastrophic consequences” for troubled Burundi and the wider region if rivals did not resolve their political differences peacefully. – AFP

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