Demonstrations in Bujumbura, Burundi

Protests and demonstrations carry on into their fourth day in Burundi’s capital city Bujumbura over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s seeks an unlawful third presidential term.

President Nkurunziza’s political maneuvering has sparked a constitutional and political crisis leading some commentators to worry that it could plunge Burundi back into a civil war.

Burundi’s civil war, which ended in 2005, saw more than 300,000 people die according to reports by the BBC. Ethnic discrimination and violence has been one of the most persistent political issues in the Great Lakes Region for decades. Burundi, and its neighbor Rwanda, have both experienced civil war and genocide since their independence in the 1960s.

Supporters of President Nkurunziza claim that his first presidential term does not count because he was not elected rather appointed by Parliament in 2005 after the peace agreement.

The press release from the United Nations Secretary General’s office did not address the constitutional crisis in Burundi, but instead emphasized the need to investigate the six deaths during demonstrations and the need to uphold human right and freedom of assembly.

President Nkurunziza and his party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), have reportedly cut phone lines and non-state media in an effort to stall demonstrations across the country. The BBC reported that the military in Gitega, Burundi’s second largest city, has prevented students there from protesting.

The United National High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that more than 24,000 people have fled the country this month, as tensions escalate leading to the expected presidential polls in June. The UNHCR also added that they estimated at least 5,000 people fled to Rwanda this past weekend alone. 

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