Burundi’s vice president flees country

One of Burundi's vice presidents flees Bujumbura following criticising President Nkurunziza's decision to run for third term

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Gervais Rufyikiri, one of Burundi's vice presidents, has fled the country, saying he felt ‘threatened’ after opposing President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term.

Rufyikiri told France 24 TV that a third term for the president would be unconstitutional, however, a government spokesman denied that Mr. Rufyikiri had been threatened in any way.

The Burundian president’s April 25 announcement regarding his re-election sparked weeks of protests in Burundi and a coup attempt.

Following pressure from regional leaders, presidential elections were pushed to July 15, it was previously scheduled for June 26.

Pre-conditions for participating in Burundi’s upcoming elections have been stipulated by Burundian opposition leader Agathon Rwasa, who demanded the disarmament of the youth and the independence of the media , the BBC has reported.

"Armed youths must be disarmed and independent media be restored," Agathon Rwasa said.

Seventeen opposition parties had earlier agreed to boycott the elections .

Rwasa said the current crisis should be resolved first to avoid “an election that may not meet all the democratic credentials.”

"But we are ready to take part if the atmosphere is conducive and the electoral commission is well prepared," he said.

Burundi has been hit by weeks of civil unrest as the country’s opposition wants Nkurunziza to withdraw his third-term presidential bid, which violates the country's constitution and the Arusha Accords, a peace deal that ended over a decade long ethnic civil war in 2005.

Burundi’s constitution limits the presidency to two terms in office, but Nkurunziza's supporters say he can run again because he was elected to his first term by lawmakers rather than the public.

More than 70 people have been killed and 500 wounded since April, during protests opposing Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term.

More than 100,000 people have fled Burundi since the start of the crisis, the UN says.

TRTWorld and agencies