Burundi Moves Ahead With Its Controversial Constitutional Referendum

Burundi Moves Ahead With Its Controversial Constitutional Referendum
Soldiers attempt to stop a group of demonstrators running toward a cordon of police in the Musaga neighborhood of Bujumbura, Burundi, May 20, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.

Tensions are rising in Burundi, where the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza plans to hold a constitutional referendum later this month that would potentially permit him to stay in office for 17 more years. Formal campaigning began this week.

In 2015, Nkurunziza’s controversial decision to seek a third presidential term, which was widely seen as unconstitutional, triggered widespread violence and prompted hundreds of thousands of people to flee the country. Though the constitution limited him to two terms, Nkurunziza maintained that his first election, which took place in 2005 at the end of the country’s civil war, did not count because he was chosen indirectly—by lawmakers instead of ordinary voters.

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