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Burundi govt open to postponing elections

01 June 2015, 07:56

Bujumbura - The Burundian government said it was open to heeding a call by East African leaders on Sunday to delay upcoming parliamentary and presidential polls by at least a month and a half amid violent protests sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid for a third term.

"The Burundian government welcomes the proposal of the heads of state" to delay the elections, government spokesperson Philippe Nzobonariba told AFP.

He added that Sunday's summit of East African leaders in Tanzania "did not discuss" the controversy surrounding Nkurunziza's third bid because it was a sovereign issue and that the government therefore considered the matter "closed".

Parliamentary elections are currently scheduled to take place on June 5, while the presidential election is scheduled for June 26.

Burundi's opposition on Sunday urged protesters to return to the streets after the East African summit failed to call for Nkurunziza to drop his re-election bid.

Also Read: Explosion shakes Burundi capital, deadly protests continue

"We are disappointed because the summit said nothing on the question that we are concerned about. We did not descend on the streets to get the elections delayed by a month and a half," said one of the protest leaders Pacifique Nininahazwe.

"We are going to stage even bigger demonstrations than we have done so far in order to get Nkurunziza to leave office," he vowed.

The crisis in Burundi erupted in late April after the ruling party designated Nkurunziza, in power for 10 years, as its candidate for upcoming elections.

The opposition and rights groups say this violates the constitution as well as a 2006 peace deal that ended a 13-year civil war.

The election controversy has sparked weeks of civil unrest that has left at least 30 people and seen tens of thousands flee the country. The turmoil even prompted a failed coup attempt earlier this month.



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