Burundi Ruling Party May Name Presidential Candidate at Weekend

Burundi’s ruling party announced a general meeting for this weekend amid speculation it will name President Pierre Nkurunziza its candidate for June elections, defying a two-term limit on the position.

The CNDD-FDD will hold its congress on April 25 in the capital, Bujumbura, the party’s communications office said in a statement. Representatives from across the landlocked East African nation will attend, party spokesman Gelase Ndabirabe said by phone, without giving further details.

The party previously said it would name its presidential candidate for the June 26 vote before the end of April. Nkurunziza, who has ruled since 2005, has said he would seek a third term if nominated. Civil society organizations say it would violate peace agreements and have vowed to demonstrate against any such move.

Tensions are rising before elections in Burundi, which emerged from civil war about 10 years ago, with the United Nations expressing concern over reports of intimidation, harassment and arbitrary detention faced by people including journalists and human-rights activists.

The country’s opposition said on April 20 that 65 people were jailed for “participation in an insurrectionary movement” after they demonstrated against the possibility of a third term for Nkurunziza. Last week the UN refugee agency said more than 5,000 Burundians have fled to neighboring Rwanda in April amid incidents of pre-election violence.

Nkurunziza, 51, came to power after leading a rebel group during the civil war. The Arusha Accords, which eventually brought an end to the conflict that killed 300,000 people, stipulated a two-term presidential limit and power-sharing between the country’s ethnic groups.

“If the party announces that Nkurunziza is candidate for the third time, Sunday we start demonstrations to protest this violation of the Arusha Accords and of the constitution,” civil society leader Pierre Claver Mbonimpa told reporters in Bujumbura on Thursday.

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