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Burundi President Calls for Peaceful Election

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza has told the nation that upcoming elections will take place in peace, and insisted that recent unrest in the capital, Bujumbura, is not representative of the rest of the country — even as the protests continued.

Nkurunziza spoke on state television late Wednesday as he announced that the upcoming parliamentary elections will be delayed by a week, to June 5, because of recent political violence.

Opponents of the president tried to stage a coup last week while he was out of the country for a regional meeting. The uprising failed, but the unrest continues daily.

More clashes

On Thursday demonstrators clashed with police, throwing stones while the officers used tear gas and fired warning shots into the air. Witnesses report at least one person was hit with a bullet and may have died.

Police chase demonstrators in the Musaga neighborhood of Bujumbura, Burundi, May 20, 2015.
Police chase demonstrators in the Musaga neighborhood of Bujumbura, Burundi, May 20, 2015.

On Wednesday Nkurunziza said the protests are taking place only in four districts in the city, meaning, in his words, "99.9 percent of the country's citizens are living in peace."

The president called on the protesters to stop their rallies and warned the media not to exacerbate the situation.

The protests began several weeks ago when Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a third term in office. The opposition says a third term would violate the constitution, but the president and his supporters say he is eligible to run again because he was elected in 2005 to his first term by parliament instead of voters.

African leaders have called on the president to postpone the election because of the unrest.

More than 20 people have died in three weeks of clashes between security forces and protesters.

The unrest has raised fears Burundi could slip back into chaos. The Central African country endured a 13-year civil war ending in 2006 that killed an estimated 300,000 people.