Influential Roman Catholic bishops in Burundi have denounced a planned referendum on whether to amend the constitution to allow President Pierre Nkurunziza to stand for two more terms.

Mr Nkurunziza has ruled the central African nation since 2005 and if the amendment is approved in the 17 May referendum he would be entitled to stand for two more seven-year terms from 2020.

The 10 bishops said it was not the right time to vote on “profound” constitutional changes.

Their spokesman, Bishop Joachim Ntahondereye, said Burundians fear to speak their minds because the authorities threaten them with intimidation and reprisals.

About 1,200 people have died in violence since 2015, when Mr Nkurunziza controversially ran for a third term after surviving an attempted coup and mass protests.

Exiled opposition groups have called for a boycott of the referendum.

Source : BBC

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