Burundi is set to abolish presidential term limits if the report prepared by the Inter-Burundian Dialogue Commission (CNDI), a commission formed by the embattled President Pierre Nkurunziza to examine Burundi’s political system, is implemented, Reuters reports.
According to the commission, the majority of Burundians want the current two-term limit for the head of state to be abolished.
This comes against the backdrop of a contested decision by President Nkurunziza to run for a third term in April 2015, which triggered civil unrest across Burundi.
“People said they have to erase the term limits; it means that the president can run for any time he wants,” Justin Nzoyisaba, CNDI’s chairman, said at a press conference Wednesday.
Nzoyisaba argued that the majority of the people who spoke to the commission want the president to rule for more than two terms.
Once the president officially receives the report from the commission, he will send it to parliament for debate and possibly embark on the process of amending the constitution to remove term limits altogether.
Nkurunziza’s Efforts To Remain in Power
Critics have questioned the report, saying it could be President Nkurunziza’s attempt to extend his rule indefinitely at the end of his controversial third term.
If this proposal is passed, Burundi will join the series of African nations that have abolished presidential term limits to allow its incumbents to hold on to power.
In December 2015, almost 6 million Rwandans voted “yes” in a referendum on a constitutional amendment to allow President Paul Kagame to extend his reign up to 2034.
A somewhat similar situation is going on in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, where the opposition is accusing President Joseph Kabila of delaying elections with the intention of extending his rule after his second term expires in December.
Civil Strife in Burundi
In April 2015, President Nkurunziza decided to run for president for a third term, contrary to the country’s constitution, which stipulates that a president shall only rule for a maximum of two terms.
A constitutional court, however, allowed Nkurunziza to participate in the election, which he won amid immense political tension and tribal animosity.