The leader of Burundi’s main opposition group says the coalition will reject the outcome of a referendum on extending President Pierre Nkurunziza’s, accusing the government of using intimidation tactics to influence votes.
The results of Burundi’s controversial referendum are due to be released on Monday but opposition leader Agathon Rwasa says his coalition group has proof of arrests and threats of assassination against those believed to be opponents to the referendum and President Nkurunziza.
Opposition group rejects referendum result
Agathon Rwasa says members of his opposition group have been kidnapped and others beaten by the country’s infamous youth groups.
“It is a parody. We will not accept the outcome of this referendum because it is a fantasy,” the former rebel chief told The Associated Press. “Some of our members have been kidnapped, others beaten by the (ruling party’s youth wing), while some people were forced to vote ‘yes’ and during counting our representatives were expelled.”
Rwasa is calling on the country’s electoral commission to organise a second poll that allows people to vote in a free and fair manner.
Five million Burundians were registered to vote ahead of Thursday’s referendum and multiple reports emerged of citizens being forced to register by security officers and youth groups. A yes result would allow constitutional changes that would pave the way for President Pierre Nkurunziza to extend his rule by another 14 years when Burundi holds its next presidential elections in 2020.
The East African nation descended into a bitter civil conflict in 2015 when Nkurunziza announced his plans to run for a third term as Burundi’s president. The country’s constitution currently limits leaders to serving a maximum of two terms but Nkurunziza’s supporters argued his first term didn’t count as he was elected by parliament rather than a public vote.
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