Hundreds of Burundians have chosen to ignore the legitimacy of President Pierre Nkurunziza's third term by joining a new online campaign in which they declare themselves presidents of Burundi.
Officially, Nkurunziza's second term ended on Wednesday (26 August) at midnight. While the President was unexpectedly inaugurated on Thursday for a third term in office after winning contested elections in July, his opponents, who say his third term is unconstitutional, now claim they no longer have a president.
Using the handle #10MillionPresidents, online users started posting comments in which they declared themselves president and pretended to impose their law.
The campaign is supported by opposition leaders, such as Burundian human rights activist and one of the leading opponents of Nkurunziza's third term, Pacifique Nininahazwe, who said: "I support the #10MillionPresidents campaign. I will take my oath at 23:59! Before the 27 [August]"
Some users, such as Lionel Sunshine, also humorously posted: "As President of Burundi, I strictly prohibit the ex-president [Pierre Nkurunziza] to leave the national territory" and "As President of Burundi, I request the immediate liberation, without condition, of every political prisoner".
In another comment, Lionel Sunshine referred to Nkurunziza's passion for football, saying: "The ex-president is under house arrest in my palace. Forbidden from playing football."
Lionel Sunshine, whose flatmate came up with the idea of Twitter users taking the oath, told IBTimes UK he was surprised at the scale of the campaign.
The user said the tweets were "Burundians' way to show, especially to the international community, that we are not resigned, and that our voices are not suffocated".
"We want to say that we do not recognise this recourse to force and that we are still the last safeguard against the war; and that we need to bring Nkurunziza to his senses, isolate him completely until he accepts to negotiate," Lionel Sunshine said, adding: "We need to change our tone with him, as threats are not enough any more."
The user said he is in favour of "severe and targeted sanctions" as well as a "cooperation suspension" by the international community.
Another user, Arsene F., posted: "My name's Burundi, President of Burundi", referring to James Bond's famous one-liner in Dr No.
The user said he was participating in the campaign "to be humorous but with an element of seriousness".
"As a whole, [a way] to make it clear that democracy is leaders working for the people, not the contrary," he told IBTimes UK.
User T2 was among those posting witty comments, describing the "emotional swearing ceremony this morning as my son became president."
Another user, Martial Irutingabo posted the picture of a box of cheese – Président is a French dairy brand – to which he added: "We would like to thank all the factories for expressing their sympathy for us the day of our [presidential] nomination".
The campaign, however, has been criticised by some users, who said that more serious actions were needed.
A user, whose pseudo is Biyoza Yann, posted: "Every person has the right to dream but daydreaming cannot contribute to Burundi's future. Don't waste your time."
On Tuesday, Nkurunziza appointed his 20-strong government, with five members from the opposition, including Agathon Rwasa.
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