Burundi women protest against president’s plan to seek reelection

Hundreds of women take to the streets in the Burundi capital of Bujumbura to protest against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s plan to run for a third term.

BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI (MAY 10, 2015) (REUTERS) – Hundreds of women protested in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura on Sunday (May 10) as they called for President Pierre Nkurunziza not to run for a third term.

Nkurunziza formally registered his candidacy on Friday (May 8), provoking a fresh round of protests in Bujumbura that left two people dead. Opposition leaders responded to the deaths by calling for a day-long pause in protests.

Nineteen people have died in the demonstrations against Nkurunziza’s bid for another term, which opponents say violates the constitution and a peace deal that ended an ethnically-charged civil war in 2005.

The two weeks unrest in the capital has been lead by the youth and civil society members but women do not want to be left behind and took to the streets in numbers.

“Today as women, we have decided to march and show that we are against a third term of the President Pierre Nkurunziza,” said protester Vivian Mugisha. “We are here today to also show that we support what has been going on for the last two weeks.”

Another protester, Joslene Twisigire said Nkurunziza’s plan to run again violates the constitution and a peace deal that ended an ethnically-charged civil war in 2005.

“We are here to demand them not to violate the Arusha accord, we do not want President Nkurunziza again, he has already served his two terms, he needs to give up and leave it for other people because we will not allow our Burundian children to die for no apparent reason because of one person who wants to rule this country,” she said.

Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term has plunged Burundi into its worst unrest since the war, which pitted rebels from the ethnic Hutu majority against the then Tutsi-led army and killed about 300,000 people.

The constitutional court ruled this week that Nkurunziza could stand, saying his first term did not count because he had been picked by parliament rather than elected by the people.

Opponents say the court is biased and have vowed to keep protesting until he withdraws from the race. They have called for the election to be delayed because of the unrest.

Burundi’s leading opposition figure, Agathon Rwasa, has asked the electoral commission to postpone a parliamentary election in May and a June presidential vote, saying it is not possible to hold peaceful and free elections.

More than 50,000 people, mostly women and children, have fled Burundi to neighbouring Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the past month, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said.