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Who will be Burundi's next president?

Robert Misigaro

BBC Great Lakes

Evariste Ndayishimiye
Getty Images
Evariste Ndayishimiye is tipped to be the next president

Burundian President Pierre Nkuruniziza's announcement that he will not run for re-election in 2020 does not come as a surprise.

Since he won a controversial third term in 2015, he has consistently said that this would be his last term.

It was the opposition and sections of the media which did not believe him, maintaining that recent changes to the constitution were aimed at giving the 54-year-old Mr Nkurunziza another shot at the presidency.

But the ruling CNDD-FDD party had denied this, arguing that the main aim of the changes were to give a president more time - seven rather than five years - to implement policies.

As far as key members of the party are concerned, the man to watch is Evariste Ndayishimiye, the CNDD-FDD's general-secretary .

He seems to be given special treatment at events, suggesting that Mr Nkurunziza, in power since 2005, may be grooming him as his successor.

See earlier post for more details

Burundi president defies his critics

The BBC's Cyriaque Muhawenayo has been at the event where Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza vowed to step down in 2020 (see earlier post).

He took a photo of the president signing into law the new constitution, which increases presidential terms from five to seven years.

President Pierre Nkurunziza
BBC

But the former rebel leader, who first came into power in 2005 after a brutal ethnic civil war, appears to have defied his critics with this surprise announcement.

Our reporter says the president also promised to support whoever was put forward by the ruling party as the presidential candidate for the next election.

Crowds turned out in force to see the president in Bugendana, in the centre of the country:

Crowds at signing ceremony for constitution in Burundi
BBC

Burundi's leader vows to step down in 2020

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza pictured after casting his ballot at a polling centre during the constitutional amendment referendum - 17 May 2018
Reuters
It was though the president sought the change to term limits so that he could stay in office until 2034

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza has said he will not seek another term in office after the end of his current mandate in 2020.

He made the announcement in Bugendana, in Gitega province, where the country's new constitution was signed into law, reports BBC's Cyriaque Muhawenayo from the ceremony.

Last month, Burundians voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to back constitutional reforms, which include extending presidential terms from five to seven years.

Many had believed Mr Nkurunziza actively sought the change to term limits so that he could stay in office until 2034.

The 54-year-old leader ran for a controversial third term in 2015, a move which set off a wave of violence and an attempted coup that was foiled by government forces.The political crisis led to hundreds of deaths and more than 400,000 people fled the country.

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Podoconiosis: The little known condition affecting millions

Wearing shoes and washing feet found to reduce symptoms
Many people have never heard of podoconiosis, but the painful condition affects more than 4 million people across tropical Africa. 

The characteristic swollen legs are caused by long-term exposure to irritant volcanic soils found in countries like Cameroon and Burundi. One and a half million people in Ethiopia alone are living with podoconiosis.

Gail Davey from Brighton and Sussex Medical School and Addis Ababa University found that simple routines such as washing the feet and wearing shoes helped to reduce acute attacks by 20%.

(Photo: The swollen feet of a person with podoconiosis. Credit: Science Photo Library)

A chronology of key events in the history of Burundi, from the 1300s to the present

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Burundi 'votes to extend Nkurunziza's rule'

Burundis President Pierre Nkurunziza (2R) waits with his wife Denise (3R) as they queue to cast their votes for the referendum on a controversial constitutional reform in Buye, northern Burundi, on 17 May 2018
AFP

In provisional, but almost complete results, Burundi's electoral commission has said people have voted to extend presidential terms - potentially extending current leader Pierre Nkurunziza's rule to 2034.

According to the provisional results, 73.6% voted in favour, 19.3% voted against, 4.1% of the votes were void, and 3.2% abstained.

More than 96% of the voting population cast a ballot in the referendum on Thursday.

Burundians had to decide whether to extend presidential terms from five years to a seven-year mandate.

There is currently a two-term limit in place for presidents. The changes could also allow Mr Nkurunziza to contest the 2020 elections, and potentially enjoy another two terms, as under a new constitution, he would start from scratch.

He is a former rebel leader who came to power at the end of Burundi's ethnically charged civil war in 2005.

His run for a controversial third term in 2015, despite being constitutionally limited to two terms, set off a wave of violence and an attempted coup, which was foiled by government forces.

The political crisis led to hundreds of deaths, and more than 400,000 people fled the country, according to the United Nations.

Nkurunzinza heading for big referendum win

Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza is registered by an electoral official before casting his ballot at a polling centre
Reuters

Burundi's electoral board has announced some provisional results following Thursday's referendum - and so far, it looks like President Pierre Nkurunzinza's camp is winning.

BBC Swahili is reporting the results show Mr Nkurunzinza’s “Yes” campaign is leading with a big margin in 16 out of 18 provinces.

Voters were choosing Yes or No on whether to extend presidential terms from five years to a seven-year mandate.

The final results is expected to be declared tomorrow.

The anticipated win means Mr Nkurunziza would to stay in office for 17 more years.

Burundi has been ravaged by political violence since 2015 when Mr Nkurunziza ran for a third term.

See our earlier post

Big queues for Burundi referendum

People start voting for the referendum on a controversial constitutional reform at a polling station in Bujumbra, Burundi, on May 17, 2018
afp

Long queues have built up outside polling stations in Burundi where a referendum is being held on controversial constitutional changes that could pave the way for President Pierre Nkurunziza to stay in office for two more, seven-year terms.

The campaign has been marred by violence and intimidation. Students were ordered to register to vote and people denied medical services if they did not have voters' cards.

The result of the referendum is almost a foregone conclusion, with most opponents exiled, silenced or killed.

Burundi has been ravaged by political violence since 2015 when Mr Nkurunziza ran for a third term.

Read: First a third term, now seven-year mandates