The leader of a Burundian opposition coalition said Saturday they would not accept the outcome of a referendum on extending the president’s time in office, calling the vote undemocratic and marred by intimidation. As the East African nation awaited the electoral commission’s announcement of the results of Thursday’s vote, Agathon Rwasa said the opposition had proof of arrests of perceived opponents and threats of assassination against those who voted against changing the constitution. “It is a parody. We will not accept the outcome of this referendum because it is a fantasy,” the former rebel leader told The Associated Press, calling on the electoral commission to redo the vote in a way that is free and fair.
Articles about voting in the Republic of Burundi.
Burundi’s president joined long lines of voters Thursday in a referendum that could extend his rule until 2034, despite widespread opposition and fears that the country’s years of deadly political turmoil will continue. “I thank all Burundians who woke up early in the morning to do this noble patriotic gesture,” President Pierre Nkurunziza said after casting his ballot in his home province of Ngonzi. Nkurunziza had campaigned forcefully for the constitutional changes that include extending the president’s term from five years to seven. That could give him another 14 years in power when his current term expires in 2020. He is the latest in a number of African leaders who are changing their countries’ constitutions or using other means to stay in office.
Burundians vote Thursday in a referendum that could keep the president in power until 2034 and threatens to prolong a political crisis that has seen more than 1,000 people killed and hundreds of thousands fleeing to neighboring countries. Many in this East African nation do not see a positive outcome no matter the results of the vote, which President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government forced through despite widespread opposition and the concerns of the United States and others warning of continued bloodshed. The country descended into crisis in 2015 when Nkurunziza pursued a disputed third term. Now Burundi’s 5 million voters are asked to approve a change to the constitution that would extend the length of the president’s term from five years to seven and would allow him to stand for two more terms after his current one ends in 2020. Nkurunziza has forcefully urged voters to support the referendum.
Burundi: A lot is at stake as Burundi votes tomorrow on controversial constitutional amendments | The Washington Post
On Thursday, Burundi will hold a referendum to revise its constitution. The current constitution, adopted in 2005, grew from the 2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, which helped end Burundi’s civil war by establishing one of Africa’s most inclusive political arrangements. The proposed amendments threaten to dismantle the Arusha Agreement without a broad national debate — and could lead to renewed instability. During Burundi’s civil war, which lasted from 1993 to 2005, rebels from the Hutu majority battled the ruling minority Tutsi army. The war started after Tutsi soldiers assassinated Melchior Ndadaye — the country’s first democratically elected president and first Hutu president. Leaders from countries in the region, including Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya and Uganda, and international organizations such as the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations, worked for two years with Burundian political and armed actors to negotiate the Arusha Agreement.
Millions of voters in Burundi will go to the polls this week in a referendum that could allow president Pierre Nkurunziza to stay in power until 2034. After a campaign marked by allegations of widespread human rights abuses and hate speech, members of Burundi’s divided and weakened opposition see little chance of any serious resistance to Nkurunziza’s efforts to secure his future at the head of the impoverished state. Burundians are being asked to vote yes or no to a proposal to extend the president’s term from five years to seven, which would allow Nkurunziza, who has been in power since 2005, to rule for another 14 years when his term expires in 2020. Tensions have been running high in Burundi for months amid a wave of alleged detentions and killings of the government’s perceived opponents. At least 26 people were killed and seven others wounded in an attack in the north-western province of Cibitoke on Friday, though it is unclear if the massacre was politically motivated.
Burundi’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza, has set May 17 as the referendum date for a controversial constitutional reform, according to a presidential decree signed on Sunday March 18. The election could allow President Nkurunziza, 54, who has been in office since 2005, to remain in power until 2034. The decree specifies that the reform will be adopted if the proportion of favorable votes is 50% plus one vote, and that parties or individuals wishing to participate in the campaign for or against this reform must register with the Independent National Electoral Commission ( CENI) between March 23 and April 6.
More than five million people have signed up to vote in Burundi’s controversial constitutional referendum in May and elections in 2020, which could allow President Pierre Nkurunziza to remain in power until 2034.
By the end of the inscription process on Saturday, “a total of 5,000,742 people” signed up, including Burundians living abroad, Pierre-Claver Ndayicariye, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) was quoted as saying Tuesday by local media. The figure was higher than CENI’s estimate of 4.5 million earlier. This includes those who will be of voting age in time for the referendum as well as people who will become adult by the 2020 general elections, Ndayicariye said. The CENI has not stated how many of the registered people will need to wait until 2020 to be of voting age.
A United Nations observer mission said Monday that last week’s presidential elections in Burundi were relatively peaceful but had not been “an inclusive free and credible” vote. Separately, the 15 UN Security Council members plan to hold consultations on the crisis Tuesday. In a preliminary report, UN observers said Thursday’s vote, which saw President Pierre Nkurunziza re-elected, was marred by violence and obstacles to freedom of expression and the press.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Burundi’s election this week “deeply flawed” and urged President Pierre Nkurunziza to hold a “meaningful, serious” dialogue with the African country’s opposition, the State Department said. Nkurunziza won a third term in Tuesday’s election, which was boycotted by the opposition. Rivals accused him of violating the constitution by running for another five years in office. The election commission said on Friday that the president, who cited a court ruling saying he could run again, had secured 73 percent of the vote. Nkurunziza’s re-election bid has plunged Burundi into its biggest crisis since an ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005. Dozens of people have been killed in weeks of protests and more than 170,000 have fled to refugee camps in neighboring states.
Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza won a third term in office on Friday after the opposition boycotted the vote, a victory that leaves the east African nation politically divided and facing international isolation after months of unrest. Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term plunged Burundi into its biggest crisis since an ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005. The opposition says Nkurunziza’s bid violated the constitution and could spark another conflict. Major donors United States and the European Union, both critical of Nkurunziza, have threatened measures from cutting aid to imposing sanctions after Burundi went ahead with an election they said could not be free or fair.