Campaigns for constitutional referendum kick off in Burundi

(Photo Courtesy,AFP)

Burundi has kicked off campaigns for a referendum on constitutional amendments with political parties holding rallies throughout the land-locked African country on Wednesday.

The controversial draft constitution provides for the creation of the post of a prime minister and only one vice-president, whereas the 2005 constitution provides for two vice-presidents. The prime minister is to be designated from the ruling party, while the vice-president will come from a different party. It also extends the presidential term from the five years provided in the constitution to seven years and allows the president to serve two consecutive terms.

The ruling National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party launched its campaign in Gitega, a central province where President Pierre Nkurunziza called on all citizens to vote “yes’’

“I will also cast the ‘yes’ ballot during the constitutional referendum. The constitution is ours,” he said.

While the opposition coalition, Burundians Hope headed by first vice speaker of the National Assembly Agathon Rwasa began campaigning against the draft constitution in Northern Burundi.

The National Independent Electoral Commission now says around 5million citizens have registered for the referendum and the general elections.

The draft constitution will be passed if it is approved by over 50 percent of voters.

Nkurunziza was elected president by parliament in 2005 and re-elected by universal suffrage in 2010 and in 2015.