KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) --
Over 900 Burundians have fled to Uganda claiming
that they are being forced to participate in the voting exercise
for a new constitution, an operation update by the UN refugee
agency said on Thursday.
The update by the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued
here said in the month of April 994 Burundians crossed into
Uganda seeking refuge.
“The latest wave of
new arrivals from Burundi revealed that they fled due to forced
participation in the voting exercise for new constitution
scheduled in May 2018,” the report said.
The new arrivals
bring the total number of Burundian refugees who have fled to
Uganda to 2,074 individuals since the beginning of this year,
according to UNHCR figures.
The refugees are
mostly from the provinces of Bubanza, Bujumbura, Bururi, Cankuzo,
Cibitoke and Karusi.
The others are from
Kayanza, Kirundo, Muramvya, Muyinga, Ngozi and Ruyigi.
The UN agency said
the refugees are also reporting persecution by the Imbonerakure
militias as well as forced repatriation from Tanzania and
Burundians will vote
in a referendum on the country’s draft constitution on May 17.
The draft constitution extends the presidential term from five
years provided in the 2005 constitution to seven years and
allows the president to serve two consecutive terms.
The draft does not
ban the current president Pierre Nkurunziza to run again in
Over 70,000 Burundian refugees
to be repatriated by December: UNHCR
DAR ES SALAAM, (Xinhua) --
The UN refugee agency said on Thursday 72,000 Burundian refugees
will be repatriated from Tanzania between April 5 and December
31, this year.
The United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement that
an agreement to repatriate the refugees was jointly made by
Tanzania, Burundi and the UN refugee agency.
The statement said
the repatriation of the Burundian refugees was agreed at the 20th
meeting of the Tripartite Commission for the Voluntary
Repatriation of Burundian Refugees in Tanzania held in the
Burundi capital Bujumbura on March 28, this year.
repatriation of Burundian refugees continued until March 29 when
a convoy transporting 515 Burundian returnees from Nduta refugee
camp to Songore transit center in Ngozi province in Burundi was
involved in an accident near Ngara town in Kagera region in
Tanzania, said the statement.
The statement said
the accident left eight people dead, including six refugees, one
International Organization for Migration (IOM) staff and one
The government of
Tanzania, UNHCR, and its partners quickly mobilized to provide
assistance to the Burundian refugees following the tragedy, said
During a review
meeting between the government of Tanzania, UNHCR, and IOM, it
was agreed that the voluntary repatriation exercise would be
temporarily put on hold until mid-April and standard operating
procedures reviewed, said the statement.
The statement said
UNHCR will continue to support the operation to ensure that the
repatriations were carried out in a sustainable and durable
manner, based on the principles of voluntariness and informed
decisions, and took place in safety and dignity.
There are 270,629
Burundian refugees and asylum-seekers living in Tanzania, and 84
percent of them have been in Tanzania since April 2015.
Burundi to distribute voter
cards for constitutional referendum
BUJUMBURA Burundi (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
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,
said heavy electoral equipment like ballot boxes and electoral
booths are being deployed to provinces, and is due to finish on
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.
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.
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.
Constitution of Burundi stipulates that a president of Burundi
cannot serve for more than two terms.
Constitution will be passed if it is approved by over 50 percent
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.
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.
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.