Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza plans to run for a third term next year, his interior minister said Tuesday, just days after parliament voted to preserve the constitutional two-term limit.
"There are people who want to believe that the question of another term is closed," Edouard Nduwimana said in remarks broadcast by several radio stations. "That is not true."
Presidential hopefuls "should prepare themselves with the knowledge that as of today, the president will run, and it will be up to the constitutional court to settle the matter," Nduwimana told a gathering of religious officials.
Nkurunziza has left little doubt that he wants a third term, but the minister was the first from within his inner circle to make his intentions explicit.
A bill that would have allowed a third presidential term failed by just one vote for lack of a quorum on Friday amid an opposition boycott.
They also warned that the bill contained measures that risked reviving ethnic demons in the small central African country, still recovering from a 13-year civil war that ended in 2006.
Article 96 of the 2005 constitution -- based on the Arusha accords that laid the groundwork for peace -- stipulates that the president "is elected, by universal suffrage, for a period of five years, which can be repeated once."
However Nkurunziza himself was first elected in 2005 under a different article, which allowed "exceptionally" for the first peacetime president to be elected by parliament.
His supporters argue that as a result he has served only one term under Article 96, while opponents say no one should be allowed to serve more than the two terms intended by the Arusha accords.