• Zimbabwe holds election July
Burundi’s president has signed a decree setting May 17 for a referendum on changes to the constitution that could keep him in power until 2034, days after some ruling party members bestowed on him the title of “eternal supreme guide.”
The decree, shared online yesterday by Burundi’s U.N. ambassador and other officials, could lead to more unrest in the East African country that saw deadly political violence after the president’s disputed decision in 2015 to seek a third term.
Opposition and human rights groups have called the referendum a plot by Nkurunziza to stay in power for life. The proposed changes to the constitution include extending a presidential term from five years to seven. Nkurunziza’s current term expires in 2020.
At least 1,200 people were killed and more than 400,000 fled the country in the chaos after Nkurunziza’s decision in 2015 to run for a third term. In November, International Criminal Court judges authorized an investigation into allegations of state-sponsored crimes including murder, rape and torture, announcing the decision shortly after Burundi became the first country to formally quit the court.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s first presidential and parliamentary elections since the end of former strongman Robert Mugabe’s long rule will take place in July, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said at the weekend.
The polls will be the first major test of the new leader, who took power in November after a de facto military coup forced the 94-year-old Mugabe to resign. They will also be the first without Mugabe’s name on the ballot since independence from Britain in 1980.