Burundi sets date for Nkurunziza life presidency referendum

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President Nkurunziza

Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza has set May 17 as the date for a referendum on a controversial constitutional reform that could keep him in power until 2034, according to a decree signed Sunday.

The government in October drafted reforms that would enable Nkurunziza to serve two seven-year mandates from 2020, but they have come under fire from the opposition and the international community, particularly the African Union Critics accuse Nkurunziza of trying to stay in power for life and say a personality cult has developed around the former rebel chief who has led the central African country since 2005.

The opposition says the changes could sign the death warrant for the Arusha peace accord of 2000, which helped end a 1993-2006 civil war that claimed more than 300,000 lives.

Though the government had initially announced that the referendum would take place ion may not date had been announced.

The decree says those willing to take part in the official campaign must register with the Independent National Election Commission (CENI) between March 23 and April 6, but no one is yet allowed to publicly declare themselves for or against the reforms.

The reforms will be adopted if 50 percent plus one vote cast ballots in favour.

His ruling party this week bestowed on Nkurunziza the tile of “visionary” and “eternal supreme guide”.

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