In Burundi, Nkurunziza Won’t Run Again, But Is He Really Giving Up Power?

In Burundi, Nkurunziza Won’t Run Again, But Is He Really Giving Up Power?
Burundi’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza, center, arrives at the national conference for the ruling CNDD-FDD party in Gitega, Burundi, Jan. 26, 2020 (AP photo by Berthier Mugiraneza).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.

Burundi’s ruling party has selected a close ally of President Pierre Nkurunziza to stand in May’s presidential election, fueling concerns that an ongoing government crackdown on political opponents, civil society groups and journalists will only continue. At a party conference over the weekend, the ruling CNDD-FDD selected Evariste Ndayishimiye as its candidate after Nkurunziza confirmed he will step down after 15 contentious years in office. Ndayishimiye is a retired army general who serves as the party’s secretary general and heads the department of military affairs in the president’s office. Because Nkurunziza has squelched or co-opted the country’s political opposition, Ndayishimiye is all but certain to win the May vote.

Ndayishimiye has shown occasional independence, including initially opposing Nkurunziza’s bid for a disputed third term in 2015, though he later fell into line. Nkurunziza, who was appointed to his first term by legislators, argued it did not count toward the two-term limit in the constitution. His decision to seek a third term sparked widespread protests and a failed coup attempt.

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