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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Burundi demonstration against remarks by UN special envoy

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- 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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EARLIER REPORTS:

Gunmen kill one, injure four in central Burundi: police

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- One person was killed and four others injured on Thursday night in a gunmen attack in Gitega province, central Burundi, an official said Friday.

Four people armed with guns and grenades attacked Murama village in Bugendana district at about 10:30 p.m. local time, where they attacked bars, shops and households, said Pierre Nkurikiye, spokesperson of the Burundian security ministry.

The gunmen fired bullets and exploded three grenades, killing one person on the spot and injuring four others, said Nkurikiye, adding that they stole money and other items from the shops before escaping.

Security forces are tracking down the attackers, he added.

Thursday’s attack is the first one in Bugendana district in recent years, according to district administrator Beatrice Bukuru.

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Burundi constitutional court endorses constitutional referendum results

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- The Burundian Constitutional Court Thursday endorsed the results of a constitutional referendum, which will extend the presidential term from five years to seven years and allow the president to serve two consecutive terms.

The Electoral Commission of Burundi announced last Monday that 73.26 percent of the eligible voters approved a new constitution in May 17’s referendum. The results had been submitted to the Constitutional Court for endorsement and publishing the final results.

The final results show that 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, President of the Constitutional Court Charles Ndagijimana said at the court headquarters in northern Bujumbura, capital city of Burundi.

Invalid votes accounted for 4.1 percent and abstentions accounted for 3.27 percent, said Ndagijimana.

“No major irregularities that could influence the poll results were found during the analysis of the report sent by the National Independent Electoral Commission,” he said.

The court therefore considers that the constitutional referendum took place in accordance with Burundian laws, he said.

The court president also said the complaint made by the opposition coalition Burundians’ Hope over the regulations and the results of the vote was found groundless.

Under the new constitution, President Pierre Nkurunziza, who has served three terms since 2005, can stay in office until 2034 if he is elected.

The new constitution also creates the post of prime minister and cuts the number of vice presidents from two to one. According to the new constitution, the prime minister is to be designated from the ruling party, while the vice president will come from a different party.

Burundi plunged into a crisis in April 2015 when Nkurunziza decided to run his controversial bid for a third term. His candidature, which was opposed by the opposition, resulted in a wave of protests, violence and even a failed coup in May 2015.

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