Burundi’s president is now “Supreme Eternal Guide”. Retirement is out


AS OMENS go, it is not a good one. In Kinama, a district in north-east Bujumbura, the cobble-stoned capital of Burundi, residents found the body of a man floating in a field of rice on May 8th. His head was missing; his heart had been torn out. Stuck to his chest was a message written in Kirundi, the language of most Burundians: “Traitors are punished.”

Violence has broken out in Burundi ahead of a referendum on May 17th to change the constitution to allow Pierre Nkurunziza, a former rebel who has been president since the end of the civil war in 2005, to stand for office again in 2020. On May 11th, 26 people were killed in the north-west of the country in an attack by rebels who crossed in from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Three days later an opposition activist who had been campaigning against the change was murdered in the street by a crowd of young pro-government militiamen.

Many Burundians expect the constitutional amendment to pass comfortably (…

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