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BURUNDI: From third term to life president – Nkurunziza forces a referendum

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Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza casts his ballot at a polling center during the constitutional amendment referendum at School Ecofo de Buye in Mwumba commune in Ngozi province, northern Burundi, May 17, 2018.

Burundians Vote in Referendum to Extend President’s Rule

BUJUMBURA (VOA) – Millions of voters in the East African nation of Burundi are casting their ballots in a referendum that could extend President Pierre Nkurunziza’s hold on power until 2034.

Scores of people waited in long lines outside polling stations in the capital of Bujumbura and across the impoverished nation to vote in the referendum.

The current term is five years, but the new amendment would give the president a seven-year mandate. The constitution limits the president to two terms, but it is argued that the change would reset the clock for Nkrunziza to run twice more.

Nkurunziza, who has been in office since 2005, was elected to a third five-year term in 2015, breaking the two-term limit enshrined in a peace deal struck in 2000 that ended a long, bloody civil war. At least 1,200 people have lost their lives since then, and more than 400,000 Burundians have fled the country.

Burundi’s national communications agency imposed a six-month ban on broadcasts by Voice of America and the BBC earlier this month, accusing the two news outlets of breaching laws regulating the media and engaging in “unethical conduct.” It also issued a warning to Radio France Internationale (RFI), accusing it of dishonest reporting about possible reprisals against those calling for a “no” vote in the referendum.

—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: May 17, 2018 at 09:53AM

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