BUJUMBURA, Burundi — The majority of Burundians want presidential term limits removed from the country’s constitution, a government-backed commission in Burundi has announced, despite last year’s deadly uproar over the president’s stay in power.

The Inter-Burundi Dialogue Commission was set up last year by President Pierre Nkurunziza to find a lasting political solution to the crisis over the president’s pursuit of a third term beyond the two-term limit.

Nkurunziza eventually won re-election last year in this East African country, despite widespread protests against him running for a third time.

The commission’s chairman, Justin Nzoyisaba, told reporters on Wednesday that the findings reflected the views of people from 49 of the country’s 119 districts.

At least 500 people have died in Burundi since April 2015, when Nkurunziza launched his campaign for a third term that many called unconstitutional. More than 260,000 people have fled the country.

The commission’s report will be sent to the Cabinet for discussion and then to parliament for debate and a possible process to amend the constitution.

The opposition described the move to amend the constitution as another example of Nkurunziza’s desire to remain in office for life.

Pancrace Cimpaye, spokesman for the umbrella National Council for the Restoration of Arusha Agreement and Rule of Law, told The Associated Press that the commission’s findings represent Nkurunziza’s machinations to grab power from Burundians.

“The findings are baseless, manipulated and don’t reflect the views of Burundians,” Cimpaye said.

Nkurunziza’s critics have said his third-term bid violated the terms of the Arusha Agreement, which ended a 13- year civil war that killed about 300,000 people.


Ssuuna reported from Kigali, Rwanda.