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Burundi’s constitutional court on Tuesday cleared President Pierre Nkurunziza to run for a controversial third term, following days of deadly protests in the capital Bujumbura.
The court ruled that the president’s bid to stand for another term “by direct universal suffrage for five years is not contrary to the constitution of Burundi,” the judgement signed by six out of seven judges read.
“It was always expected that the consitutional court would vote in favour of the status quo,” said FRANCE 24’s correspondent Duncan Woodside, pointing to the strong presence of Nkurunziza loyalists in the court.
The move is expected to anger protesters who say Nkurunziza’s decision to run again violates the constitution and the terms of a peace deal that ended the country’s 1993-2005 civil war.
“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 dispute has plunged Burundi into its worst political crisis since 2005. Civil society groups say at least 12 people have been killed during Burundi’s protests, while police put the number at six, including three members of the security forces.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in the region for talks, told a news conference in Nairobi on Monday the decision to seek a third term “flies directly in the face” of Burundi’s constitution.
Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader, has called the protests an “insurrectional movement” and warned of tough steps against those behind the demonstrations.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)