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Burundi demonstrates against UN special envoy’s remarks

President Nkurunziza/Photo: IGIHE Burundi

The Burundian government Saturday organized countrywide demonstrations against UN secretary general’s special envoy to Burundi, Michel Kafando, for saying a recent constitutional referendum in Burundi will polarize an already tense situation.

The demonstrations, which took place at chief towns of Burundi’s all 18 provinces, were also against the governments of France and Belgium for “dividing citizens” of Burundi, Burundian Interior Minister Pascal Barandagiye, who joined the demonstrations, told a crowd of people in Ngozi town of Ngozi province, northern Burundi.

The foreign ministry of France earlier this week said in a statement that the amended constitution does not protect the Tutsi minority group.

“France and other colonizers like Belgium have to stop interfering in our internal political affairs,” said Barandagiye.

The National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), the Burundi ruling party, has maintained that the amended constitution respects the letter and spirits of the 2000 Arusha Agreement that provides quotas on power-sharing of positions in higher institutions between ethnic groups.

The Burundian Constitutional Court on Thursday endorsed the results of a constitutional referendum held on May 17 on extending the presidential term from five years to seven and allowing the president to serve two consecutive terms.

The court said the amendments to the constitution were approved by a vote of 73.24 percent in the referendum while citizens who rejected the draft constitution accounted for 19.37 percent.

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