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Burundians forced to sign up to vote in referendum – opposition

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Burundians are being forced to sign up to vote in a May referendum on extending presidential term limits, Burundian opposition figures and residents say, although the government denies the allegations.

The constitutional amendment would extend the presidential term to seven years from five, allowing President Pierre Nkurunziza to run again in 2020. It would limit the president to two consecutive seven-year terms, but won’t take into account previous terms, potentially extending his rule to 2034.

The deputy chairman of the opposition FRODEBU party, Léonce Ngendakumana, said on Saturday citizens were being intimidated into signing up to vote in a week-long registration exercise.

”Checkpoints have been set up, likely by youths of the ruling party, to check receipts (of registration). Students who have not been registered are sent back to do so,” Ngendakumana said.

“This referendum is organized in total opacity and extreme intimidation. A referendum held in such conditions will result in a biased outcome.”

Nkurunziza came to power in 2005 after a peace deal ended a decade of civil war between the Tutsi-dominated army and Hutu rebels, in which 300,000 people were killed.

He ran for a third term in 2015, which opponents said violated the terms of the peace deal, sparking clashes resulting in hundreds of deaths. Nearly 430,000 people have fled the tiny East African nation of 10.5 million.

A traveler who requested anonymity confirmed said he had been stopped at a roadblock near the Rwandan border and asked to confirm he had registered. Five people in total talk about roadblocks in three different locations.

The registration drive also targeted 16-year-olds, since they will be able to vote in the 2020 elections. A memo displayed at the Bururi secondary school in the south of the country said: “Whatever service you are requesting will be conditional on a receipt confirming that you registered (to vote)”.

Thérence Ntahiraja, the interior minister’s assistant, said compulsory registration is illegal. “Enrollment just like voting is a voluntary act. I think the perpetrators of those incidents are over-zealous people,” he said.

Two days ago, the minister for interior urged officials to get potential voters to register.

“We are asking the administration … if necessary to go door to door to see if all the people of the voting age have registered. Of course they will not force them,” Pascal Ndayiragije said on state radio.

The constitutional amendment being voted on in May also changes other government powers. It will replace two vice-presidencies with a prime minister from the majority party, who will be head of the government. Parliament will be able to pass laws with a majority rather than the two-thirds of votes currently needed.

The opposition can still nominate a vice president, but he will have no powers.

Motherland News

Nigerian President Buhari Warns Ballot box snatchers to value their lives

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President Muhammadu Buhari has warned those planning to snatch ballot boxes during the elections to desist or pay with his or her life if caught.



President Buhari who stated this at the opening session of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Caucus meeting in Abuja, on Monday, said that such act would be the last unlawful act the person will be brought to book.

Meanwhile, the governors of Imo, Rochas Okorocha and Ogun, Ibikunle Amosun were conspicuously absent at the meeting.

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Buhari who said he is confident that he has garnered enough supporters having gone round the country to campaign, urged party members to reassure their constituents to come out and vote on the rescheduled dates.

While urging party agents to watch out for the party interests at the polling units the president said that he has directed security agencies to identify hot spots and be ready to move should they suspect any attempts to cause problems by thugs across the country irrespective of party affiliations.

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– Vanguard

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Health & Lifestyle

DR Congo blame Unending Ebola Outbreak on Violence , Community Mistrust.

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DR Congo Ministry of Health spokesperson Jessica Ilunga has declared that violence and community mistrust have continued to hamper all efforts to control and end the fresh Ebola outbreak, which started Aug. 1.



Though according to the World Health Organization the number of new Ebola cases has dropped slightly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as there are 33% fewer cases to date in February compared with the same time period in December per STAT’s Helen Branswell, but some experts warn Axios that there remain signs that this outbreak is far from over.

Meanwhile, some experts warn that, that doesn’t mean the world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak on record is yet under control, and in fact it could simply be moving to new areas of the sprawling country.

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Johns Hopkins’ public health expert Jennifer Nuzzo maintains there are several reasons people should continue to view this outbreak as a cause for concern.

However, Nuzzo said Congo needs more than money from the international community and the U.S. in particular. Safety concerns have largely caused the CDC to limit its Ebola experts to the capital city of Kinshasa, where some have returned after being evacuated during an uptick in election-related violence, Nuzzo added that Now is the time for the U.S. to send them into the field.

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