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Burundians to vote in referendum to extend president's rule

by 17/05/2018 03:32:00 0 comments 1 Views

"Do something -- don't just issue statements," Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, a renowned rights defender, urged the international community at a press conference in Paris.

The campaign period, like the preceding three years of unrest, has been marked by intimidation and abuse, say human rights groups.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said there had been "a campaign of terror to force Burundians to vote yes".

"The process has not met any of the criteria to ensure credibility. It has been marked by warnings, threats, intimidation and repression," said FIDH's Tcherina Jerolon.

'Death knell' for peace deal

The vote is taking place in tightly-controlled conditions, and a presidential decree ruled earlier this month that anyone advising voters to boycott the vote risks up to three years in jail.

The tiny central African nation has struggled to recover from a brutal and destructive civil war from 1993-2006 that left more than 300,000 people dead.

A peace deal, signed in the Tanzanian city of Arusha in 2000, paved the way to ending the fighting and included a provision that no leader could serve more than two five-year terms.

Nkurunziza's third term circumvented that clause and the proposed constitutional amendments will abolish it, increasing terms to seven years and allowing Nkurunziza to stand again in 2020.

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