Burundi Opposition Defies State Ban as Protests Enter Third Week

Burundian opposition supporters extended their protests into a third week against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s plan to seek re-election, defying an order by security officials to end the demonstrations.

The protests will continue until Nkurunziza drops plans to run for a third term, opposition leader Audifax Ndabitoreye said by phone Monday from the capital, Bujumbura. Critics of Nkurunziza say his decision violates a two-term limit stipulated in a 2005 peace deal to end a 12-year ethnic conflict that left 300,000 people dead.

Burundi’s National Security Council on May 9 ordered that all demonstrations must stop within 48 hours.

“We call on everyone not to listen to the National Security Council,” Ndabitoreye said.

At least 20 people have died in street demonstrations since Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD party last month nominated him to run in a presidential vote set for June 26, according to Pacifique Nininahazwe, head of the Forum for Conscience and Development advocacy group. The country is due to hold parliamentary elections on May 26.

The State Department urged U.S. citizens to be cautious when traveling in Burundi during the election season, “which could extend from May through September.”

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