Voters in Burundi have overwhelmingly approved a new constitution, the electoral commission said on Monday, ushering in changes that could let President Pierre Nkurunziza’s stay in power to 2034.
An opposition coalition rejected the result of last week’s referendum while the United States said the process had been marred by voter intimidation.
The commission reported that 73 percent had voted in favour of amendments extending the presidential term from five to seven years and allowing Nkurunziza to seek two more terms, beginning in 2020.
Commission chairman Pierre Claver Ndayicariye told a news conference that 96 percent of the 4.7 million registered voters cast ballots last Thursday.
Opposition leaders say the changes to the constitution will allow Nkurunziza — whose party gave him the title of Supreme Eternal Guide this year — to be above the law.
Evariste Ngayimpenda, a top official of the Amizero y’Abarundi opposition coalition, denounced “a process which was tainted with many incidents including arrests, imprisonments and killings”.
“We reject these results and we will file a complaint because the process was marred by lot of irregularities, even during the counting of the votes,” he said.
Opposition campaign workers had been terrorised and refused access to polling stations, he added.
Rights groups said campaigning and the vote itself took place in a climate of fear and intimidation. The government had denied the vote would be anything but free and fair.