Burundi votes on referendum that could extend president‘s term till 2034.
Burundians have been charged to vote in a referendum to extend the presidential term from five years to seven, which would give their incumbent president, Pierre Nkurunziza the power to rule for up to 14 more years after his current term expires in 2020. In 2015, Nkurunziza made a controversial decision to run for third term, and a result, over 1,000 people have died and while more than 400,000 have fled their homes in the country.
Aimé Magera, a spokesman for the National Liberation Forces (FNL), an opposition party, said: “The people have overcome their fear and come out in huge numbers. We are going to resist right to the end.” “We will show to the international community that the Burundian people are awake and standing and need help.” A yes vote would boost the president’s powers and allow changes to the distribution of top government posts according to ethnicity.
The electoral commission stated that the vote represented a “historic rendezvous with democracy and the consolidation of national sovereignty”. UN high commissioner on human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, urged authorities to assume their responsibility in order to ensure peace, security and democracy as hundreds of burundians lined up for the vote in which they are merely asked to decide yes or no (“Ego” and “Oya” in Kirundi, respectively) in the constitutional referendum with no question posed on the ballot. Nkurunziza, a former teacher and rebel leader has been in power since 2005.
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