Groups threatening Burundi security must be destroyed: president

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza gives a speech after being sworn in for a controversial third term in power, at the Congress Palace in Kigobe district, Bujumbura on August 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Griff Tapper) (AFP/File)

Nairobi (AFP) - Burundi's president on Wednesday called for groups that threaten national security to be "destroyed", setting a combative and hardline tone as he begins a controversial third term in office.

In a speech read out on state media, Pierre Nkurunziza said young people would be given "patriotic, theoretical and practical training" to work alongside the central African nation's security forces.

"These mixed security committees will be asked to work day and night so that groups which seek to only kill and upset security, especially inside Bujumbura, will be destroyed and so that we won't be talking about them two months from now," he said.

He urged "all people to rise up as one, and to work with security forces so that this promise can be kept".

The president won a highly-controversial third term in July in polls the United Nations said were not free or fair, and which sparked an attempted coup and months of civil unrest led by opposition groups who condemned his re-election bid as unconstitutional.

There have also been a string of killings since his re-election, including that of his top security chief, assassinated last month in a rocket attack.

Nkurunziza won over 69 percent of the vote in July's presidential poll, giving him a landslide first round victory. The polls, however, were boycotted by the opposition.

Burundi's constitution only allows a president to be elected twice -- for a total of 10 years in power -- but before the polls Nkurunziza argued he had only been directly elected by the people once.

In power since 2005, when he was selected by parliament, he then was re-elected in 2010.

Nkurunziza said the dispute over his third mandate was now "over".

"Today, it is time to work together for our country, to support the institutions we have elected and put in place the programme that you voted for us to put in place," he said.

Nkurunziza, a 51-year-old former sports teacher, was a Hutu rebel leader during Burundi's 13-year civil war, when at least 300,000 people were killed.

The opposition and international community claimed a third term violated the Arusha accords that paved the way to end the war in 2006.