International Business Times quotes Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham on the violence and ethnic tensions surrounding Burundi’s presidential elections:

The ethnic dimension to the unfolding electoral crisis in Burundi is something that cannot be ignored, said J. Peter Pham, the African Studies Director at the Atlantic Council, a think tank in the field of international affairs. Pham said it was important to note that Nkurunziza was the first Hutu president of Burundi to finish his term. He added that one of the most prominent leaders of the protests against the president, Pacifique Nininahazwe, founder of the nongovernmental Forum for Conscience and Development, is a Tutsi. Sylvere Nimpagaritse, the vice-president of the Constitutional Court, who went into exile rather than recognize Nkurunziza’s candidacy, is also a Tutsi.

“We (the United States) are forty years from our civil rights movement, but we still have racial tension in our country,” said Pham. “Our struggle for civil rights in this country is not close to being as bloody as Burundi’s was, and they are only ten years out from it.”

Pham said that whether or not Nkurunziza should be able to run for a third-term is a legal question that should be sorted out among the Burundi people. However, even if it were legal for Nkurunziza to run for a third-term, whether or not it would be a good idea is an entirely different issue.

Read the full article here.

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