(Reuters) – Burundi’s ruling party chose President Pierre Nkurunziza to run for a third five-year term on Saturday, a move critics say is unconstitutional and may trigger unrest.
Opposition groups have vowed protests if Nkurunziza stands again as this, they say, would undermine a peace deal that kept the poor east African nation calm for a decade since the end of an ethnically-fueled civil war in 2005.
Two months ahead of the presidential election, close to a thousand members of the party representing the former Hutu rebel movement, including Nkurunziza, attended a meeting in the party’s complex in the capital Bujumbura on Saturday.
“We are happy to announce to the Burundian people and the world that the party has elected President Nkurunziza to represent our party in the presidential election,” party chairman Pascal Nyabenda said after the decision was made.
“We call on our opponents for calm, we call on them to go to the election and compete with Nkurunziza through ballot boxes.”
“We call on security forces, police to take action against whoever will go in the streets for protests,” he added.
Security outside the complex and on all streets of Bujumbura has been tightened to deal with any eventual protest that could erupt in case the party nominated Nkurunziza.
“Once Nkurunziza is declared the candidate, we won’t wait. The next day (Sunday), over 300 civil organizations engaged in a campaign against a third term for Nkurunziza will descend in the streets,” prominent civil society activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa told Reuters before the nomination was announced.