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Iran Press TV

Burundi military to remain loyal to authorities: Cmdr.

Iran Press TV

Mon May 4, 2015 9:6AM

The chief of staff of Burundi's army has pledged the military's loyalty to the country's authorities as the central African nation is witnessing violent protests over President Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial bid for a third term in office.

General Prime Niyongabo said Sunday that the military "remains and will remain a republican and loyalist army that is respectful of the laws and rules of Burundi and of those who govern it."

Niyongabo, however, warned against efforts to use the army for political ends, calling on soldiers "to stay calm, united and not to give in to any political approaches."

Niyongabo's remarks came after Burundian Defense Minister Major General Pontien Gaciyubwenge declared the army's neutrality and called for an end to attacks on citizens' rights.

The call by Burundi's defense minister came hours after Security Minister Gabriel Nizigama announced a major crackdown on political protests, accusing the opposition and civil society groups of providing cover for a "terrorist enterprise."

At least ten people have lost their lives during a week of demonstrations against the controversial bid. Nearly 600 people have also been arrested.

In October 1993, Melchior Ndadaye, the first democratically elected president of Burundi who came from the Hutu ethnic group, was assassinated after only 100 days in office. The assassination triggered deadly ethnic violence between Hutus and Tutsis, another ethnic group in Burundi.

The National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy, which is the ruling party in Burundi and known by its French language acronym CNDD-FDD, has designated Nkurunziza as its candidate for the June 26 presidential election.

The opposition says Nkurunziza's bid is both unconstitutional and against the Arusha Agreements that ended the civil war.

Nkurunziza is a former rebel leader from the majority Hutu tribe.

Under Burundi's constitution, presidents are limited to serving only two full terms. Supporters of Nkurunziza argue that his first term does not count due to the fact that he was selected by the parliament at the time.

The president in Burundi is elected for a five-year term, eligible for a second.


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