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Burundi Electoral Board Urges Voting Delay

FILE - A new Burundi electoral schedule has been proposed for a July 15 presidential election. Here, election workers distribute voter cards in the capital, Bujumbura, June 4, 2015.

Burundi's electoral commission has recommended postponing national elections after violent unrest sparked by the president's decision to seek a third term.

The National Independent Election Commission said Monday that the presidential election, originally set for June 26, should be delayed until July 15. It called for having voters choose parliamentary representatives on two dates: for the general assembly on June 26 and for the senate on July 24.

President Pierre Nkurunziza is expected to authorize the change.

No campaigning has taken place in the wake of violent protests and a failed coup attempt last month in the capital, Bujumbura.

Nkurunziza’s critics say that by running for a third term, he is violating term limits in the constitution and the accords that ended Burundi's civil war. His supporters say he is eligible for a third term because he was elected by parliament, not voters, for his first five-year term in 2005. The constitutional court has ruled in favor of the president.

A commission spokesman, Prosper Ntahorwamiya, told VOA's Central Africa service that the revised dates concur with recommendations made by East African leaders, who have been pressing for a delay. But he also said officials want to stay in line with Burundi's constitution, which says all elections must be completed by August 26 to avoid a political vacuum.

The United States has cautioned Nkurunziza against running for a third term, saying the decision could destabilize Burundi.

Since the protests began, more than 100,000 Burundians have fled the country and, according to the French news organization AFP, at least 40 have died.