Fearing bloodshed, Burundi faces vote on president’s power

By AP

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BUJUMBURA, — Burundians vote Thursday in a referendum that could keep the president in power for another 16 years and threatens to prolong a political crisis that has seen more than 1,000 people killed and hundreds of thousands fleeing to neighboring countries.

Many in this East African nation do not see a positive outcome no matter the results of the vote, which President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government forced through despite widespread opposition and the concerns of the United States and others warning of continued bloodshed. The country entered crisis in 2015 when Nkurunziza pursued a disputed third term.

Now Burundi’s 5 million voters are asked to approve a change to the constitution that would extend the length of the president’s term to seven years and allow him to stand for two more terms.

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