Fresh political violence in Burundi has left one person and dead and at least three others wounded, as demonstrations continue against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term. Witnesses and a Red Cross official said the latest unrest occurred Thursday after police intervened to stop clashes between the president’s supporters and opponents in the capital, Bujumbura. Burundi’s constitutional court this week ruled President Nkurunziza is allowed to run for a third term, enraging his opponents who say this violates the constitution. Nkurunziza vowed Wednesday if he is re-elected it will be his last term.
He also called for an end to the protests, saying it is important the June 26 elections be held in a peaceful atmosphere. At least 13 people have died since the demonstrations began April 26, the day Nkurunziza announced he would seek re-election. Top officials have promised the government is willing to release the hundreds of detained protesters on the condition that the protests stop.In Tuesday’s ruling, the court said the president could run without violating the constitution’s two-term limit, saying “renewal of the presidential term through direct universal suffrage” is permitted.
Nkurunziza’s first term as president was the result of a parliamentary vote. The president’s supporters say he has served only one term as a result of winning a general election and should be eligible to seek re-election according to those terms.
The unrest has prompted at least 24,000 Burundians to flee to Rwanda and sparked fears of a renewed civil war in Burundi. An estimated 300,000 people were killed in a 13-year conflict that ended in 2006. Speaking in Kenya on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is “deeply concerned” about the Burundian president’s decision, which he said “flies directly in the face of the constitution.”