Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza [official website; BBC profile] was elected to a third term on Friday, leading to public protest and international criticism. Although the election resulted [AP report] in Nkurunziza receiving 69 percent of the vote, the Constitution of Burundi [text, PDF] states that presidents shall be universally elected into office for a term of five years and can renew the term only once. Nkurunziza was first appointed president in 2005 through lawmakers and not a national vote.
Prior to the vote on Friday, Nkurunziza’s opponents boycotted the election [JURIST report] claiming it is unconstitutional for a president to seek a third term. In Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital, citizens rioted against the election with explosions and gunfire Monday night. Also on Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urged all parties to refrain from violence [statement] that would destabilize Burundi and the region in wake of the election. The unrest in Burundi intensified in May after the Constitutional Court ruled that he could seek a third term [JURIST report] in office without violating the country’s constitution. Those opposing Nkurunziza’s bid for a third presidential term claim that both the constitution and the Arusha peace deal [agreement, PDF] that ended the 2005 civil war state that no one should be president for more than 10 years. Those backing Nkurunziza claim that this does not apply to him since he was not voted in for his first term but selected by lawmakers.