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Burundi president sworn into third term amid protests

Thu Aug 20, 2015 5:43PM

The photo shows Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza during his inauguration ceremony on August 20, 2015. (©AFP)

The photo shows Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza during his inauguration ceremony on August 20, 2015. (©AFP)

Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has been sworn into office for a controversial third term in a surprise inauguration ceremony, amid persisting protests against his new tenure.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Burundi’s presidential office, said Nkurunziza took the “oath for a new term of five years” in a ceremony, which was made public only hours after being held.

During the inauguration ceremony, Nkurunziza swore loyalty to the constitution, vowing to dedicate all his “forces to the defense of the best interests of the nation, to assure national unity and the cohesion of the Burundian people, social peace and justice.”

Nkurunziza won an outright victory in last month’s presidential election after grabbing 69.41 percent of the votes.

This is while Nkurunziza’s third term has widely been censured as unconstitutional by the country’s opposition, prompting months of violent protest rallies that has so far claimed more than 90 lives.

A Burundian protestor holding a rock gestures as he confronts police (unseen) in the Nyakabiga neighborhood in Bujumbura on July 21, 2015. (© AFP)


The July presidential poll was also criticized by the United Nations observer mission in Burundi, which said the vote was not “inclusive, free and credible,” and that it was held “in an environment of profound mistrust” between political rivals.

Reports say no foreign head of state attended Nkurunziza’s swearing in ceremony. South Africa was the only country that attended the event at a ministerial level. A number of African states as well as China and Russia also sent their ambassadors.

However, ambassadors of the US and the European Union did not take part in the inauguration, sending lower ranking diplomats to the ceremony.

The impoverished and landlocked nation in the heart of the troubled Great Lakes region of Central Africa plunged into turmoil in late April, when Nkurunziza first announced his bid to run for a third consecutive five-year term.

The decision was denounced by the opposition, that argued the move was contrary to the constitution, which only allows two successive terms, as well as the 2000 Arusha Agreement that paved the way for ending the civil war in the country

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