Burundi celebrates independence amid political violence

Opposition says president does not have constitutional right to seek third term

Burundi celebrates independence amid political violence

World Bulletin / News Desk

Burundi celebrated its 53rd year of independence Wednesday amid rising tensions and political violence in the country’s capital.

Burundi gained its independence from Belgium on July 1, 1962 and changed its name from Ruanda-Urundi to Burundi.

An official ceremony was held to celebrate the occasion at the Prince Louis Rwagasore stadium in Bujumbura, with embattled President Pierre Nkurunziza in attendance.

After a military parade, Nkurunziza delivered a speech calling on Burundians to love their country.

He also decorated eleven soldiers and one civilian, praising them for having "played a remarkable role in countering... the failed May 13 coup."

Six people were killed on Wednesday, including one police officer, during clashes in the north of Burundi's capital between protestors and police over Nkurunziza's plan to run for a third term.

Burundi has been rocked by protest since the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy named President Pierre Nkurunziza – in power since 2005 – its candidate for the July 15 presidential polls.

The situation took a turn for the worse earlier last May when a group of army generals staged a failed coup attempt against Nkurunziza while he was attending a regional summit in Tanzania.

The opposition says Nkurunziza does not have the right to seek a third term, citing Burundi's constitution, which limits the number of terms a president can serve to two.

However, Burundi's Constitutional Court recently ruled that Nkurunziza's third-term bid would not violate the constitution.

The court ruled that, since he was elected in 2005 by parliament and not by the people, Nkurunziza's first stint in office should not be counted as a first presidential term per se.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Temmuz 2015, 13:29