Party Calls Burundi’s President ‘All-Time Visionary’ Before Referendum

Pierre Nkurunziza 

Photographer: Renovat Ndabashinze/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Burundi’s ruling party declared President Pierre Nkurunziza an incomparable “all-time visionary,” as the troubled East African country prepares for a referendum that may allow him to rule until 2034.

The unusual designation, announced in a statement by the ruling CNDD-FDD, comes before a May plebiscite on major changes to the constitution, including extending presidential terms to seven years from five. It’s taking place as regional leaders from Rwanda to Uganda further entrench their reigns.

Landlocked Burundi has been roiled by violence that’s left hundreds of people dead and forced more than 400,000 to flee their homes since April 2015 when Nkurunziza began seeking another term, which he subsequently won. Pacifique Nininahazwe, an activist, said on Facebook the new declaration was part of Nkurunziza’s plan to become president for life.

Authorities say 5 million voters have registered for the referendum that doesn’t yet have a set date. The next presidential election is in 2020 and Nkurunziza’s supporters argue that if the constitution is changed, he could run again under the new rules.

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