Burundi opposition leaders call for fresh protests

Opposition vows to keep up rallies against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term.

Opposition leaders in Burundi say a big protest against President Pierre Nkurunziza will be held in the capital, Bujumbura, on Tuesday.

But with several protest leaders having left the country and others in hiding, it is unclear whether many opposition members will actually heed the call to march.

Protests against Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term have been going on for weeks. More than 20 people have been killed by security forces and 90,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries.

The call for fresh protests came as Burundi’s government on Monday held out the possibility of a postponement of elections.

Parliamentary elections are currently scheduled to take place on June 5 while the presidential election is slated for June 26.

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A summit of leaders of the East African Community – comprising Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda – and South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma on Sunday called for postponement of the elections for at least a month and a half.

‘Slight reshuffle’

Presidential spokesman Gervais Abayeho said the electoral commission was looking into the request and would advise the government.

“They will make a proposal to the government to see if it is possible to make some adjustments on the calendar. But the government is receptive of the proposal made by the summit,” he said.

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“We believe any reshuffle of the calendar will be anytime soon. I think there will be some slight reshuffle.”

The opposition and rights groups say the president’s third-term bid violates a constitutional two-term limit as well as a 2006 peace deal that ended a 13-year civil war.

Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader, insists he has every right to stand again because he was elected to his first term by parliament, not directly by the people.

Gelase Ndabirabe, spokesman for the ruling CNDD-FDD party, said it also supported the postponement.

“We are ready to invite all partners in the issue to put effort, stop protests, for what they called protests have cost many lives,” he said on national radio.

Last week, the European Union and the Catholic Church pulled out from observing the elections, saying the vote cannot be fair because of daily unrest and a crackdown on media.

The opposition had also called for the elections to be postponed.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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