Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza hinted on Friday that he he could file his candidacy for president when his current tenure runs out.
Burundi goes to the polls again in 2020 but there will be the need for a constitutional amendment to allow him to stand for a new tenure.
According to him, his decision will however largely rest on the people. He was responding to a series of questions in a live phone-in program and public conference organized in the Rutana province located in south-eastern Burundi.
“As we are in a country governed by the law and if the people say that they allow someone to represent them, without breaking the law, if the people demand it, we will not betray the trust of the country, the confidence of the people,” Nkurunziza said during the public questions session.
“The people can decide whenever they want (to reform) the Constitution,” he added, suggesting that he was ready to revise the current Constitution, article 96 of which provides that the Head of State “is elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term renewable once”.
Mr Nkurunziza was first elected by Parliament in 2005 as part of a mechanism provided for in the Arusha Agreement (2000), then for a second time by popular vote in 2010.
He however considers that his first term – the appointment by Parliament – does not count, which allowed him to present himself at the end of April 2015 for another term – in his view, his second but according to the opposition, an unconstitutional third term.
He was successfully re-elected in July of the same year. The period before and after his election plunged the country into a security, humanitarian and economic crisis.
Since April 2015, the violence has caused more than 500 deaths and displaced over 300,000 people. Mr Nkurunziza admitted that he had promised on the occasion of his re-election not to run again in 2020. But this decision had been taken “according to the current situation”, he argued.
In order to legitimize its revision of the Constitution, it intends to base itself on a recent report by the National Council for Internal Dialogue (CNDI), which stated that a majority of the participants in this dialogue wished to put an end to the limit of two presidential mandates.