The political crisis that has been raging in Burundi in the past three years appears to be far from over. Indeed, it could just get worse as President Pierre Nkurunziza digs in with an elaborate scheme to extend his tenure. Today, Burundians will be voting in a referendum for sweeping constitutional changes to benefit the president.
It’s a ridiculous scheme to see President Nkurunziza remain in power until 2034. Sadly, this is the culmination of a bloody conflict that has seen opponents of the regime pursued, bludgeoned, killed or forced to flee the country.
What looked like a promising democracy, with the end of military rule, has descended into a nightmare.
The repression in Burundi is bad for a region that should be forging ahead with greater co-operation and economic integration. With the leadership channelling all its energies into monopolising power back home, Burundi has had little time to deal with the broader issues of significance to the East African Community.
Of concern to many East Africans is the onslaught against the presidential term limits in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Whatever justification the leaders make for clinging onto power, there is no doubt that this has contributed to the erosion of democratic gains. A situation where only one group has an exclusive grip on power is an anathema to democracy.