Burundi votes to allow president to extend time in power

2018-05-21 18:59
(iStock)

(iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

A majority of Burundi's voters agreed to amend the constitution in changes that could prolong the rule of President Pierre Nkurunziza until 2034, the country's electoral commission announced on Monday.

More than 73% of 4.7 million voters in the May 17 referendum supported the constitutional amendments, with only 19% opposing the changes, official results showed.

On Saturday the leader of a Burundian opposition coalition, Agathon Rwasa, said he would reject the outcome, calling the vote undemocratic and marred by intimidation.

Another opposition figure who lives in exile, Hussein Radjabu, urged Burundians to use other means to push Nkurunziza out of power, raising the possibility of renewed violence.

Nkurunziza had campaigned forcefully for the constitutional changes that include extending the president's term from five years to seven, making him the latest African leader to prolong his stay in office. That could give him another 14 years in power when his current term expires in 2020.

The referendum raised concerns about bloodshed in Burundi that has seen deadly political violence since April 2015, when Nkurunziza sought and ultimately won a disputed third term.

Nkurunziza's opponents say he already has ruled longer than the constitution allows.

The 54-year-old Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader, rose to power in 2005 following a peace deal ending a civil war in which some 300 000 people died. He was re-elected unopposed in 2010 after the opposition boycotted the vote.

Nkurunziza in 2015 asserted he was eligible for a third term because lawmakers, not the general population, had chosen him for his first term. Critics called the third term unconstitutional as the deal ending the civil war says the president can be re-elected only once, but the constitutional court said Nkurunziza could run again.

More than 1 200 people have been killed in in sporadic violence since April 2015, according to the United Nations.

International Criminal Court judges last year authorised an investigation into allegations of state-sponsored crimes - a decision unaffected by Burundi's unprecedented withdrawal from the ICC.

Observers ahead of the vote expressed alarm at reported violence and intimidation of the referendum's perceived opponents, including threats of drowning and castration.

A presidential decree criminalised calls to abstain from voting, with a penalty of up to three years in jail.

In a new report Human Rights Watch says it documented 15 killings and six rapes used as punishment against those opposed to the referendum. It accused Burundi's security services and ruling party youth league members of abducting, beating and intimidated suspected opponents.

The government rejects such allegations, calling them propaganda by exiles.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook


Read more on:    international criminal court  |  burundi  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

SQL Reporter

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R10 000.00 - R12 000.00 Per Month

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

HSE Manager

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R550 000.00 - R650 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.