In a televised address Wednesday night, Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza (pictured) insisted that he will seek a third term as head of state, reports the BBC.
On April 25th, the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party nominated 51-year-old Nkurunziza, even though he has been in power since 2005.
And while Burundi’s constitution states that presidents can only serve two terms of five years each, that didn’t stop President Nkurunziza’s party from nominating him for what would be his third term.
The nomination immediately threw the East African nation into chaos, with 40,000 fleeing the country to go to neighbors Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Many of those who remain in Burundi are protesting in the streets in Bujumbura, the capital, demanding that the President step down.
See photos of the protests here:
President Nkurunziza contends that he has the right to seek a third term since Parliament — and not the people — elected him for his first term. And as if it would be any consolation to the public, President Nkurunziza added he will not seek a fourth term.
Protesters, though, aren’t buying the President’s claim; they see his run for office as illegal.
So far 13 people have died since April 25th, with journalists saying that the 13th victim died when police “opened fire” on protesters Thursday in the capital’s Kinama district.
That protester received a bullet to the head.
Watch Burundians protest here:
Still in his address, President Nkurunziza told people to return to their homes, and that if they stopped demonstrations, all who were arrested would be released.
In reality, though, President Nkurunziza has called protesters “terrorists,” and as evidenced by the latest death, he’s given the police the authority to shoot in to crowds without impunity.
Watch the following video on the possible impact of the protests on East Africa: