Burundi President Seeks Third Term as Violence Rocks Small African Republic

Berundi-vote.jpgPierre Nkurunziza, the 51-year-old billionaire president of Burundi since 2005, is telling an estimated 3.8 million voters in one of the poorest countries in the world, he deserves a third five-year term because the country's Constitution allows it.

Unskilled laborers in Burundi earn about $1 a day (U.S.) for an estimated but not confirmed eight-hour working day, according to several online international currency sources.

Opposition groups have so far failed to rewrite the Constitution to limit the president's position to two terms. Up until now, opponents did not have sufficient voting power in Parliament to do so.

The presidential election is set for July 15 unless the month-old violence intensifies and forces a date change. Parliamentary elections were held June 29, despite protests by worldwide organizations, including the United Nations, to re-schedule the event.

You can see why. Grenade attacks leading up to the June 29 elections shook several towns, killing four and injuring dozens, according to various media reports. At least 80 persons have died so far in street protests.

One of the country's two vice presidents and two members of the electoral commission have fled, fearing for their lives.

An estimated 100,000 Burundians have also fled and are now refugees in the surrounding countries of Rwanda, Tanzania and the Congo. International and local civil rights groups refuse to set up election monitors. They fear government forces would quickly dismantle whatever materials they set up.

His father, Eustache Ngabisha, was elected to the Parliament of Burundi in 1965 and later became Governor of two provinces before being killed in 1972 during a period of ethnic violence. An estimated 300,000 Burundians were slaughtered in that period.

Burundi's 13-year civil war ostensibly ended in 2006. The country's estimated 11,000 square miles of land-locked area is about the size of Maryland. Burundi's 11 million residents have endured civil unrest for years.

The Twa, Hutu and Tutsi peoples have lived in Burundi for at least 500 years, according to various histories of the tribes. Germany colonized the region at the beginning of the 20th century.

After the First World War and Germany's defeat, it ceded the territory to Belgium. The Belgians ruled Burundi and Rwanda as a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi.

However, social differences between the Tutsi and Hutu contributed to political unrest in the region, evident to this day.

Nkurunziza prides himself as being a sort of philanthropist and hail-good-fellow sort to the struggling citizens. He enjoys being addressed as "His Highness."

An anonymous contributor to Wikipedia notes that Nkurunziza is an accomplished 'born again' Christian. He married his wife Denise Bucumi in 1994. They have five children: three boys and two girls.

He was one of seven children. Two of his siblings were killed after the civil war erupted in 1993 following the assassination of Burundi's first democratically elected president, Melchior Ndadaye, an ethnic Hutu.

Will Nkurunziza disappoint his critics and win a third term? I think so. He has enough bullets to guarantee that event.

And that's the way it is at this moment. 

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