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Opposition leader says Burundi not ready for polls

25 May 2015, 21:45

Burundi - Burundi is not ready for parliamentary or presidential elections next month because the government is curtailing freedoms including preventing the opposition from campaigning, a leading opposition candidate said Monday, as protests over President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid for a third term in office continued in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura.

Nkurunziza cannot win if the elections are free and fair, said Agathon Rwasa, who is running as an independent candidate in the June 26 elections.

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Rwasa, the leader of a former rebel group National Forces for Liberation who is now an opposition politician, said there is widespread intimidation of those opposed to Nkurunziza.

"I don't believe elections can be held in this enviroment," Rwasa said. "Many are not there especially in opposition stong-holds," he said, referring to the more than 100,000 refugees who have fled Burundi for fear of violence ahead of the polls. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for June 5, while presidential polls are slated for June 26.

Protesters, who have been demonstrating for four weeks in opposition to Nkurunziza's bid for a third term in office, battled police on Monday.

In Bujumbura's Bwiza neighborhood one protester was wounded after being shot by police, according to a witness who insisted on anonymity for fear of retribution.

Protesters in the capital's Buterere area put feces on their barricades, of rocks and cut-down telephone poles, to hinder their removal.

- AP


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