Burundian President, Pierre Nkurunziza, said Thursday he would not run for another term, despite widespread belief that he backed a new constitution extending term limits in a bid to cling to power.
“I will not go back on my word. Our mandate ends in 2020,” Nkurunziza said in a speech to supporters and diplomats in the central region of Gitega.
His announcement came shortly after he signed into law a new constitution that could enable him to rule until 2034.
Describing himself as “Guide” of the ruling CNDD-FDD party, Nkurunziza said he would not seek re-election at the end of his current, controversial third term.
Nkurunziza’s decision to run for election in 2015 plunged Burundi into a deep and deadly political crisis, with opponents saying his candidacy went against a peace deal that had ended more than a decade of civil war.
Last month a constitutional referendum was held to extend presidential terms to seven years.
It was widely seen as a move paving the way for Nkurunziza to run for a further two terms under the new dispensation.
“The new constitution has not been tailored for Pierre Nkurunziza, as our enemies claim,” he said.
“As far as I am concerned, I am preparing to support, with all my strength, the new president who we are going to elect in 2020.”