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Burundi Delays Parliamentary Election Amid Political Crisis

  • VOA News

An opposition demonstrator holds a sign in French reading "No to a third term" next to a barricade fire set by protesters in the Ngagara neighborhood of Bujumbura, Burundi, June 3, 2015.

An opposition demonstrator holds a sign in French reading "No to a third term" next to a barricade fire set by protesters in the Ngagara neighborhood of Bujumbura, Burundi, June 3, 2015.

Burundi has postponed a parliamentary election that was scheduled for Friday, but there is no word about the controversial presidential election set for later this month.

Gervais Abayeho, a spokesman for Burundi's president, told VOA's French-to-Africa service that "it is certain there will be no election on Friday." He said the electoral commission was working on a new date for the poll based on recommendations made by regional heads of state.

Burundian politics has been mired in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced in April that he would seek a third term. Critics who say the president is bound by a constitutionally prescribed term limit have staged frequent protests in the capital, Bujumbura, and more than 20 people have died in clashes between demonstrators and police.

Another person was killed in a grenade attack late Tuesday in Buterere, a suburb of the capital. The wife of Ndayizeye Janvier Abdul, 38, said the attack happened while the couple slept.

Witnesses told VOA's Central Africa service they thought Abdul was killed because he belonged to an opposition party, the National Liberation Forces.

On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department renewed pressure on Nkurunziza to back down from his plan to run again. Spokesman John Kirby said the decision had destabilized Burundi, triggered violence and endangered the country's economic well-being.

Burundi's constitution limits presidents to two publicly elected terms of service. However, supporters of the president say he is eligible to seek a third term because he was elected by parliament, not voters, for his first five-year term in 2005.

Opponents say Nkurunziza is violating term limits found in both the constitution and the Arusha Agreement that helped end Burundi's 13-year civil war.

More than 100,000 Burundians have fled to neighboring countries since the political crisis began in late April. Nkurunziza survived a coup attempt launched last month while he was briefly out of the country.

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