>> Burundi's president, voting Thursday in a referendum to keep himself in power until 2034. Pierre Nkurunziza won a controversial third term three years ago, prompting opponents to take up arms against him, nearly half a million people have fled since.>> Today has finally arrived, May 17th, 2018 we are very happy that the people woke up early in the morning to vote yes or no for the amendment of the Constitution.
>> More violence before this referendum has raised fears of harsher repression and ethnic conflict. The slaughter of 28 people many of them women and children in this north western village last week was seen as a warning to vote for the changes. Nkurunziza's party has given him the title of Visionary, and he'll probably get his wish for constitutional amendments that will let him run for two more seven year terms.
Rights groups put that down to fear, opposition figures say dissidents have been arrested, no rallies broken up. They say the youth wing of the ruling party towards villages threatening opponents with death, those who vote against have been called enemies of the nation. So the vote is expected to proceed in a tense calm.
Burundi one of the worlds poorest countries is no stranger to ethnic conflict, its ethnic makeup is the same as neighboring Rwanda. While 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus perished in the 1994 genocide. Nkurunziza himself is a former guerrilla leader from the Hutu majority, who has ruled since Burundi civil war ended 13 year ago.
The government says the vote will be free and fair, and denies allegations of repression.