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Burundi's president must abandon bid for 3rd term: bishops demand

May 13, 2015

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Church leaders in Burundi have reportedly said that they will ask Catholics to leave the country’s electoral commission if President Pierre Nkurunziza goes forward with his plan to seek a 3rd term in office, in violation of the country’s constitution.

President Nkurunziza, who has held office since 2005, plans elections on June 26. According to a Voice of America report, the country’s bishops have said that if Nkurunziza does not announce a change in his plans by May 17, they will press for the resignation of Catholics on the election commission.

The US and the European Union have also urged Nkurunziza to postpone elections, but he has rejected those pleas.

Opponents of the president’s push for a 3rd term have said that fair elections are impossible, because the government has shut down critical media outlets and imposed tight restrictions on political protests.

In defense of his plan for a 3rd term, Nkurunziza has argued that because he was initially selected by the nation’s parliament rather than by a national election, his first presidential term does not count toward the constitutional two-term limit.

The Church wields considerable influence in the African nation, since Catholics account for about two-thirds of Burundi’s 7 million people.


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