A top Burundian judicial official who is now in exile has stated that his country’s constitutional court ruling allowing President President Pierre Nkurunziza’s to run for a third term in office was the result of pressure exerted on the judiciary.
Burundi’s Constitutional Court Vice President, Sylvere Nimpagaritse - who fled to neighbouring Rwanda following threats to his person - said that the country’s top judicial body was forced to change its decision to favor Nkurunziza’s administration.
"If we did not give the third term a green light, we were going to be in trouble," Nimpagaritse announced, reporting that the initial ruling of constitutional judges on April 30 did not permit the country’s president to run for a third term.
He said that he fled the country after he and other judges received threats to withdraw their earlier ruling prohibiting Nkurunziza from running for a third term in office.
The east African nation has been hit by protests in opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza's running for a third term as Burundi's constitution stipulates that a president can only serve for two terms.
The constitution limits the presidency to two terms in office, but Nkurunziza's supporters say he can run again because his first term was decided by lawmakers and not by elections.
Protesters say his attempt at a third term is illegal according to a 2006 peace deal between Hutus and Tutsis which ended a 13 year long conflict that had killed hundreds of thousands in the country.