Burial for 28 ahead of Burundi referendum vote

Coffins of people killed in an attack are seen during their burial in Ruhagarika village in Cibitoke. Photo: REUTERS/Evrard Ngendakumana

CIBITKE – A burial for 28 people killed in an attack in Burundi's northwestern province of Cibitoke late on was held on Tuesday a day before a planned referendum in the country set for Thursday. 

The attack came on Friday less than a week before the referendum in the country to decide whether to amend the constitution to extend presidential terms to seven years from five.

Human rights groups say they do not think the vote will take place in a free and fair climate, while there have been sporadic incidents of violence and abductions.

Burundi was plunged into crisis in April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza said he planned to run for a third term, which the opposition said was unconstitutional and violated a peace deal that had ended the country's civil war in 2005.

READ: Church opposes Burundi constitutional referendum

Nkurunziza was re-elected, but some of his opponents took up arms against him. Rights groups say an estimated 400,000 people have sought refuge from the violence in neighbouring countries.

Government officials and members of the opposition have been among those killed in tit-for-tat violence by rival sides.

The proposed constitutional changes would limit the president to two consecutive terms but would not take into account previous terms, potentially extending Nkurunziza's rule to 2034.



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