Protests escalate in Burundi after Constitutional Court backs the president

Burundi's Constitutional Court approves the candidacy of Pierre Nkurunziza for his third term presidency leading to large protests

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Despite the storming demonstrations against his third term bid in office, Burundi's Constitutional Court approved the candidacy of President Pierre Nkurunziza on Tuesday, leading to escalation in protests in the country's capital. 

The conflict between the demonstrators and police spilled over into Burundi’s capital of Bujumbura, where the US embassy is located.

“Police fired shots in the air and tear gas when a group protesting against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza running for a third term in office approached the US embassy in the capital on Tuesday,” the US embassy said to Reuters.

The government has urged protesters to accept the ruling and stop demonstrating. Nkurunziza, a former Hutu rebel leader, has called the protests an "insurrectional movement".

However, opposition parties said the court ruling was unfair and protesters denounced it.

"The first term we accepted. The second term we accepted. We will never accept the third term," the demonstrators shouted outside a hotel where the government met opponents, civil society groups and diplomats. Police soon pushed them away, Reuters has reported. 

"We don't care about the constitutional court decision because we know this court is manipulated," said Jean Minani, leader of Frodebu-Nyakuri party, part of one coalition behind the protests. He said rallies would not stop until the president backed down.

The east African nation has been hit by protests in opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza's re-election for a third term while 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 picked by lawmakers and not by elections.