International action needed to stop Burundi catastrophe - Egeland

GENEVA, May 6 (Reuters) - International action is needed to avoid a catastrophe in Burundi, Jan Egeland, the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council and the former top humanitarian official for the United Nations, said on Wednesday.

More than a week of demonstrations against the Burundi president's decision to stand for a third term have plunged the African nation into its worst crisis since an ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005.

"All lights are blinking in Burundi. All alarms are going. So where's the fire brigade," Egeland told a news conference in Geneva.

"Many good people are locally trying to do the right thing and avoid more ethnic violence but the signs are very very worrying and it is precisely now that there should be coherent regional and international action to help those in Burundi who want to avert a new catastrophe," he added.

Civil society groups and opposition parties say President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision violates two-term limits set out in the constitution and a peace deal that ended the civil war.

But Burundi's constitutional court this week cleared the way for the president to run again in June, saying his first term did not count because he was picked by parliament not publicly elected. (Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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