Burundi’s visionary leader announced Thursday he will not run for another term, even as he put in place a new constitution that would allow him to stay in power until 2034.
While many believed he was planning to cling to power as long as possible – after already pushing through a third term, the 54-year-old evangelical who believes he was chosen by God to rule the east African nation said he did not change the constitution to favour him.
Speaking in the Kirundi language, President Pierre Nkurunziza told supporters: “We assure Burundians and the international community. Our term will end in 2020. This constitution was not modified to favor President Nkurunziza, as the enemies of the country spread recently. I swear and am really ready, with all my heart, with all my mind and with all my strength, to support the new president we will elect in 2020.”
He added: “A man can change his position in the bed, but he cannot change his word.”
In 2015, Nkurunziza brushed aside international condemnation to seek a third term. He plunged Burundi into a spiral that has killed 1 200 people, displaced hundreds of thousands and left most of Nkurunziza’s critics silenced or exiled.
Now, will president Nkurunziza stick to his promise?
Well… 2020 isn’t far. However, some people have hope, while others do not believe him.
Pierre #Nkurunziza of all people has indicated that he may not be standing for the 2020 elections in his volatile #Burundi amidst fear of increase tensions.
Nonetheless, Hope he will stick to his words. Often we have seen so many of such leaders do a 360 degree turn around
— Moses Ngwanah (@mosesngwanah) June 7, 2018
Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi now says that he will step down in 2020 after the the country passed a referendum that allowed him to cling to power until 2034. He is lying #SokoUpdates pic.twitter.com/vwLZqXqRaE
— juma 🇰🇪 (@jumaf3) June 7, 2018