Burundi to distribute voter cards for constitutional referendum
BUJUMBURA, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Voter cards for Burundi's constitutional referendum on May 17 will start to be distributed Wednesday at registration centers, a spokesperson for the Burundian electoral commission (CENI) said Tuesday.
The number of registered voters expected to get voter cards is 4,768,142 in total, spokesperson Prosper Ntahorwamiye said at a press conference.
The distribution will take place at registration centers nationwide between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. local time, and will be concluded on May 13, Ntahorwamiye said.
The spokesperson said heavy electoral equipment like ballot boxes and electoral booths are being deployed to provinces, and is due to finish on May 12.
All the electoral equipment should have arrived in provinces by May 13, he said.
The CENI granted accreditations to 39 local civil society organizations to monitor the referendum, according to Ntahorwamiye.
Political parties are currently campaigning for the referendum across the country. As the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) and its allies are calling on the Burundian people to support draft amendments, opposition coalition Burundians' Hope asks voters to vote against the change.
The 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 extends the presidential term from the five years provided in the 2005 Constitution to seven years and allows the president to serve two consecutive terms.
The present Constitution of Burundi stipulates that a president of Burundi cannot serve for more than two terms.
The draft Constitution will be passed if it is approved by over 50 percent of voters.
Incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza was elected the president of Burundi by the parliament in 2005, and was re-elected in a universal suffrage in 2010 and in 2015.
The landlocked country plunged into a crisis in April 2015 when Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term, which he won in July 2015. His candidature, opposed by the opposition and civil society groups, resulted in a wave of protests, violence and even a failed coup in May 2015.
Main opposition groups had been saying that Nkurunziza's third term bid was a violation of the Constitution and the Arusha Agreement that ended an over decade-long civil war, but the Constitutional Court issued a ruling saying that Nkurunziza's 2005-2010 term should not be considered as a term because he was elected by the parliament and not directly by citizens.