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Burundi’s Ruling Party Considers Delay of Presidential Vote

Protesters march who are against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term, in Bujumbura, Burundi, June 4, 2015.

Burundi’s ruling CNDD-FDD party has indicated it will conditionally accept the call by East African leaders to delay the July 15 presidential election two weeks to July 30.

Party chairman Pascal Nyabenda said any decision to delay the vote must ensure that the constitution, which mandates that presidential elections cannot go beyond July 26, is not violated. The constitution also states that the president-elect must be sworn in by August 26.

Leaders of the East African Community, who met Monday in Tanzania, also named Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to mediate a dialogue between the Burundian government and the opposition.

The decision came after the ruling party told U.N. mediator Abdoulaye Bathily to stop his work because he began without first being received by the government.

“It has been taken a decision to delay this presidential election, but what we can say in our party is that everything we have to do, even if we respect the decision by these heads of state, we have to respect also our constitution. So, we will see. We will sit down and see what can be done by respecting our constitution,” he said.

Nyabenda commented on the constitutional mandate that the presidential election cannot go beyond July 26.

“It says that the presidential election can’t be beyond 26 July because 26 July will be the last date which is mentioned in our constitution, because from there it is one month at the end of the term of the actual president, which means that we can’t go beyond [July 26]. If they talk about 30th July, it would mean that we will go beyond that date,” he said.

Nyabenda said the ruling CNDD-FDD is also ready to work with Uganda President Museveni’s mediation efforts.

“He is a wise man who knows very well what is happening in Burundi. He knows very well Burundians. We hope that he will do well,” he said.

The opposition said President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term violates the constitution and the 2005 Arusha Accord that ended the country’s civil war.

Nkurunziza said the election will be his second term because, when he was first elected in 2005, he was elected by parliament, not the people.

Meanwhile, the general who staged a May 13 failed coup announced Monday that he and others will launch an armed resistance to force Nkurunziza to drop his bid for a third term. General Leonard Ngendakumana said Nkurunziza is trying to drag Burundi into a civil war.

Nyabenda said Ngendakumana failed the first time and he will never succeed because the Burundian people are unified behind the president.

“He failed on 13th May, he can’t succeed this time. Our population is very determined to fight [for] the country,” Nyabenda said.

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