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Burundians ‘want presidential term limits abolished’

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Burundians ‘want presidential term limits abolished’
ANNOUNCED DATE FOR REFERENDUM: President Pierre Nkurunziza

A commission set up by Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has said that most people in the country want term limits to be abolished.

Last year, the country was plunged into a political crisis after the president announced that he was running for a third term.

Street demonstrations were followed by a failed coup attempt.

The constitution limits a president to two elected terms, but Mr Nkurunziza’s lawyers successfully argued in the constitutional court that his first term did not count as he was appointed by MPs.

Reports say that the chairman of the presidential commission Justin Nzoyisaba said the majority of the people commissioners spoke to “want the president… to exercise more than two terms”.

Great Lakes problem

While Burundians spar over President Nkurinziza’s desire to remove term limits, Ugandans have a bigger battle already looming: whether the country will change its constitution to allow President Museveni to stay in power for life.

Museveni, 71, who came to power in 1986 and has endeared himself to the West by fighting Islamists in the region, is barred from the next election in 2021 because he will be past the constitutional age limit of 75 for presidential candidates.

On Wednesday, Uganda’s Parliament deferred presentation of a motion by a legislator, Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko seeking leave to introduce a bill on constitutional amendments and raise the retirement age for judicial officers, among others.

Ideal the bill if passed would help the ruling party, NRM dominated parliament to remove the age cap of President Museveni’s office.