Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza said he will step down after elections in 2020, in a statement that may help ease the East African nation’s political crisis.
Burundi has been gripped by unrest since 2015 when the president sought re-election after two terms in office, a move his opponents said went against a peace deal that ended a decade-long civil war. Last month, a new constitution was approved in a national referendum that extends the presidential term to seven from five years and restores the post of prime minister.
“The constitution was not made for the president only,” Nkurunziza said Thursday in a speech broadcast on national television. “It is for the well-being of the population.”
The unrest has forced more than 400,000 people to flee their homes, with a United Nations commission of inquiry accusing the authorities of crimes including extrajudicial executions, torture and enforced disappearances. The government dismisses the allegations.
Nkurunziza said he is “ready to support the new president who will be elected in 2020.”