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Burundi voters approve constitutional amendment extending presidential term limits

[JURIST] Burundi announced on Monday that voters had approved amending the nation's constitution [text, PDF] to extend presidential term limits from five years to seven.

According to the election commission chief, 73 percent of voters supported [Al Jazeera report] changing the constitution. Nineteen percent voted against the amendment.

The amendment gives Burundi's president, Pierre Nkurunziza [BBC profile] the ability to potentially stay in office until 2034. Nkurunziza, who has been in office since 2005, is currently serving his third term, although Burundi's constitution sets a two-term limit.

Burundi's opposition party expressed concern that the election was rigged. Opposition leader Agathon Rwasa said he plans on filing a petition to challenge the referendum.

Voter intimidation is another concern. On Friday Human Rights Watch reported [JURIST report] violence in Burundi carried out by members of Burundi's security forces prior to the referendum. In November an International Criminal Court prosecutor was authorized [JURIST report] to investigate crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burundi. In September a UN commission called on [JURIST report] Burundi to end ongoing human rights violations.

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