Burundi President May Seek a Third Term

09 March, 2015

Burundi is facing unrest before its presidential election in June. People are questioning the right of President Pierre Nkurunziza to seek a third term.

Advisors, political observers and Burundi's opposition party all say the president plans to seek re-election. The move is disputed because the constitution limits a president to two five-year terms.

Mr. Nkurunziza was first elected to the presidency in 2005. His election was the result of a national assembly vote, not a popular election. At the time, he was the only presidential candidate.

Burundi President May Seek a Third Term
In this 2010 file photo, Burundian president Pierre Nkurunziza, right, casts his vote at a polling station in his hometown of Mumba in Ngozi province, northern Burundi. (AP Photo/Sylvain Liechti)

In 2010, voters elected Mr. Nkurunziza to a second term, after the opposition candidate left the race.

Now, some observers say it may not be illegal for the president to seek a third term. But, they say, it might not be the right thing to do.

John Manirakiza is from Burundi. He says no one should be able to serve for more than 10 years, whether or not the constitution allows a third term.

He notes that the country is still arguing about a presidential candidate only three months before the election. That fact, he says, shows the country's politics are dysfunctional, or unhealthy.

Agathon Rwasa is the leading opposition candidate. He agrees Burundi's political situation is bad and may be getting worse. Recently, media reported large demonstrations in the country's capital.

Isidore Ntirampeba is with the Burundian embassy to the United States. He points out that President Nkurunziza did not choose to run in 2005. Instead, his party appointed him.

And, Mr. Ntirampeba says, the president's party has not yet named a candidate for the 2015 election.

The United Nations Security Council has commented on the situation. In a statement released last month, Council members called for a free, fair and peaceful election process.

I'm Kelly Jean Kelly.

Paul Sisco and Shaka Ssali reported this story. Kelly Jean Kelly wrote it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

dysfunctionaladj. having poor and unhealthy behaviors and attitudes

run – v. to seek office