Burundi’s 2nd vice president flees amid political tensions

“Put the interests of the Burundian people before your personal interests and withdraw your presidential bid, because it violates the constitution”, Gervais Rufyikiri said in a letter addressed to President Pierre Nkurunziza.

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Opponents say the president’s move is unconstitutional.

A civil war that claimed 300,000 lives in Burundi ended in the country 12 years ago.

– Speaking from Brussels, Gervais Rufyikiri calls president’s plan to seek third term in office ‘illegal’.

Voters will elect 100 lawmakers, with lists to ensure parliament adheres to constitutional rules on ethnic and gender representation.

Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura has been rocked by weeks of street protests since the ruling party announced on April 25 that Nkurunziza will run for re-election in elections in July. “I personally was fearing for my security since I saw some signals”.

Landry Ndikuriyo, a history major at the National University of Burundi, said the police threatened the use of force to evict them from the building site causing a melee as students scampered for safety.

The 50-year-old Rufyikiri, appointed in 2010, said he was threatened by “government agents” before leaving Burundi last week.

Three grenade attacks in the capital on Thursday injured several people.

Demonstrators throw stones and hide from sustained automatic gunfire allegedly by police in Bujumbura, Burundi, on Wednesday.

Armed U.S. marines watched from the embassy roof as students climbed under the gate and over the wall after abandoning their camp, established outside the embassy complex since violent protests began in late April. Rallies have since petered out although the mood remains unsettled.

On one side is Nkurunziza’s powerful ruling ex-rebel CNDD-FDD party, well-organised and with sizeable resources, facing off against a marginalised opposition out of power for five years following its boycott of elections in 2010. However, talks between rival camps have so far shown tiny sign of bridging differences.

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Burundi is to hold elections in June and July, with the legislative and communal polls due on June 29.

Burundi vice president flees days ahead of election