Burundi President Begins Disputed Third Term After Violence

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Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza was sworn in for a third term after victory in last month’s elections that most opposition figures boycotted.

Nkurunziza took the oath Thursday morning in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, in a ceremony broadcast on national television. His late-April decision to seek a third term in the face of political opposition sparked deadly protests and an unsuccessful coup attempt. The United Nations and U.S. described the East African nation’s July vote as lacking in credibility.

“No one can prevent the sun from shining,” Nkurunziza said, referring to attempts by unidentified people to sabotage the elections. “The step that we realized today shows that we, Burundians, are mature enough to decide on our own.”

Unrest in Burundi has left at least 90 people dead since April and driven 180,000 others to seek refuge in countries in the region. Opponents say Nkurunziza, 51, violated a two-term limit set out in peace accords that ended a 12-year civil war in 2005. Supporters argue that his first term doesn’t count because he was chosen by parliament rather than by popular vote.

Speaking at Thursday’s ceremony, Nkurunziza said that citizens had fled abroad “because of rumors,” urging them to return and help build the country.

He also warned “those who have decided to attack the country” that “they will be finished one-by-one like scattered powder.”

Some of Nkurunziza’s supporters have been targeted by assassinations, including General Adolphe Nshimirimana, a former intelligence chief and presidential adviser, on Aug. 2. Burundi’s authorities say they have arrested some members of the military in connection with that killing.

Government critics have also been targeted in violence, including prominent activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa who was granted permission to travel outside the country for treatment after being shot by unidentified assailants.

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