May 21, 2018

Burundi's president wins referendum to extend his rule

People wait in a line to vote in Ngozi, northern Burundi. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images

Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunzizahas won a referendum which could see him remain in power through 2034, reports the AP, in a vote the opposition says was marred by voter intimidation.

The bigger picture, per the Economist: “The referendum in Burundi highlights the steady erosion of term limits in recent years across central Africa. Over the past decade half a dozen countries have ignored or revoked laws limiting presidents to no more than two terms in office.”


  • President Pierre Nkurunziza, 54, came to power in 2005 following a civil war, and sparked a crisis in 2015 by bypassing term limits on a technicality. “In the year afterwards, Burundi was shaken by violence. Opposition supporters (or those merely suspected of being so) were arrested or went missing. Almost half a million people have fled to neighbouring countries,” the Economist reports.
  • “There is little hope of outside intervention halting the crisis. ... Without regional support, foreign powers such as the European Union are unable to do much. They have already played their strongest card by cutting most aid.”
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