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Protest banned in Burundi

25 April 2015, 09:08

Bujumbura - Burundi's government on Friday announced a nationwide ban on demonstrations following threats by the opposition and activists to step up protests against controversial plans by the president to seek re-election.

President Pierre Nkurunziza is widely expected to launch his campaign for a third term in office during a ruling party congress on Saturday, defying what opponents say is a two-term limit set out in the constitution as well as the peace deal that ended Burundi's civil war in 2006.

There are fears that the move, coupled with mounting allegations that Nkurunziza's CNDD-FDD party is intimidating opponents, could push the small central African nation back into violence.

Burundi's interior minister said the ban on protests would be effective on Saturday.

"The government forbids any demonstration for whatever reason anywhere in the country," Edouard Nduwimana announced.

Opposition parties and civil society groups are campaigning for the president not to run again and have threatened to take to the streets.

The government has also already warned that it could call out the army.

The influential Catholic Church has also spoken out against the president's expected attempt to stay put, and earlier this month UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein warned that the country was at a "crossroads" between a fair vote and a route back to its "horrendously violent past".

Presidential elections in Burundi are scheduled to be held on June 26.

Burundi's constitution only allows a president to be elected twice - for a total of 10 years in power - but Nkurunziza argues he has only been directly elected by the people once.

For his first term, beginning in 2005, he was selected by parliament. The opposition boycotted the last elections in 2010, alleging fraud.



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