AFRICA/BURUNDI - "We live in fear awaiting the constitutional referendum that would allow the President to remain in power until 2034"

Friday, 2 March 2018 violence  

Bujumbura (Agenzia Fides) - "In Burundi, we are living in a state of terror because of pressure from President Pierre Nkurunziza to approve the reform of the Constitution", sources of the Church tell Agenzia Fides that do not want to be mentioned for security reasons.
The referendum, to be held in May, calls voters to approve a constitutional reform whose central point would allow the duration of the presidential term from 5 to 7 years, with no more than two consecutive terms covered by the same person.
In 2015 Nkurunziza had already obtained a third mandate in disregard of the old Constitutional Charter and the Arusha Peace Agreements, provoking a very serious political crisis, which forced 400,000 Burundians to take refuge in neighboring Countries. "With the new Constitution, Nkurunziza would be allowed to candidate himself and obtain two mandates of 7 years each, in order to remain in power for another 14 years, until 2034" the sources told Fides.
"Many Burundians have signed up to vote in Burundi's controversial constitutional referendum. The opposition is prevented from doing propaganda to invite the population to vote no in the referendum. Under these conditions it is therefore almost certain that the constitutional reform will be approved. Furthermore, the presidential elections of 2020 risk being a farce", the sources underline.
"The UN has criticized the methods for registering voter lists, reporting episodes of constraint with threats and intimidation, for example, against teachers and high school students, as well as groups of farmers".
"It is therefore a dictatorship where people constantly live in fear. Especially since it continues to find the bodies of people tortured and killed abandoned on the roads or near the villages. In the past month alone, about fifteen bodies have been found, in different areas of Burundi. Sometimes 40 bodies are discovered in a single month", the sources say.
"The Church continues to call for dialogue between the political and social parties but unfortunately so far it is an appeal that has fallen on deaf ears. We continue to pray and hope for peace, remaining close to the suffering population", sources of Fides conclude. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 2/3/2018)