Burundi’s Vice President resigns over third term opposition

Gervais Rufyikiri, Second Vice President of Burundi has fled the country

Gervais Rufyikiri, Second Vice President of Burundi has fled the country

The Vice President of Burundi Gervais Rufyikiri has resigned and fled the country after denouncing President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term bid.

Mr. Rufyikiri told the Paris-based France 24 television Wednesday that he was stepping down because he is against the president’s “unconstitutional” third term candidacy.

According to the Presidency, the Second Vice President had gone to Belgium on official duties, but sources say he has fled.

Rufyikiri is the latest high ranking government to resign and flee the country citing third term opposition and security concerns.

In May Sylvère Nimpagaritse, Vice President of Burundi Constitutional Court opposed the court’s decision to validate the president’s third term candidacy and fled to neighbouring Rwanda.

Two senior officials of the country’s National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) have also fled to Rwanda.

The development comes as security concerns continue to grow as the June 29, communal and legislative elections draw closer, amidst stalled talks between the government and the ruling party on one side and the opposition and civil society on the other.

Stakeholders are trying to resume talks aimed at ending the political crisis that has rocked the central African nation since April 26 when the governing CNDD-FDD nominated President Pierre Nkurunziza for the third term.

The party’s decision triggered protests in the capital Bujumbura and life hasn’t been back to normal since. Rights organisations say more than 70 people have since died. And tens of thousands have fled to the East African region.

Protestors and opposition argue the president’s candidacy contravenes the constitution and the Arusha Peace Accords.

Nkurunziza on the other hand maintains he is legally running for the third term.

Presidential elections are due July 15 but opposition leaders have threatened to boycott the “fraud” elections. They want the polls to be postponed until peace returns to the country.