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Burundi Prepares for Referendum

Burundi Prepares for ReferendumBurundi Prepares for Referendum

Burundi is gearing up for a landmark referendum on controversial constitutional changes that could potentially allow President Pierre Nkurunziza to stay in office until 2034. On Thursday, voters will be asked to consider scrapping a current constitutional limit on two presidential terms each spanning five years, Aljazeera reported. If approved, Nkurunziza—in power since 2005—would be able to seek two more seven-year terms in office.  According to the east central African country’s electoral commission, more than five million people have registered to take part in the referendum. For the amendment to be implemented, more than 50% of cast ballots need to vote in favor.  The new constitution also gets rid of one of two vice-presidents and shifts powers from the government to the president. The new text makes no changes to the sensitive issue of ethnic quotas, which currently states that government and parliament must be made up of 60% Hutus and 40% Tutsis. However, it opens the possibility for the Senate to review and possibly modify this balance. The quotas are seen as crucial to peace after a 1995-2003 civil war, which killed more than 300,000 people.

 

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