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Burundi opposition reject election delay proposal

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza/FILE

Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza/FILE

BUJUMBURA, Jun 9 – Burundi’s opposition has rejected proposals for a new election timetable after weeks of protests at President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third-term bid, saying conditions for holding fair polls were not met.

The electoral commission on Monday suggested postponing the presidential election until July 15. It also suggested delaying parliamentary elections until June 26, and senator elections to July 24.

Opposition leader Charles Nditije demanded the setting up of a new independent electoral commission (CENI), after two of its five members resigned and left the country.

“If things remain as they are, we consider that it will be a masquerade, a parody of elections,” Nditije said.

He also called for the disarmament of the ruling party’s youth wing — the Imbonerakure, who the United Nations say is a militia force — and for Nkurunziza to end his third-term bid for power.

“We cannot hold elections now,” Nditije told AFP late Monday. “The conditions are not there, so elections cannot be credible and give acceptable results.”

The parliamentary election had been scheduled to take place on June 5 but was postponed indefinitely on the eve of the vote, while the presidential vote was initially scheduled for June 26.

Around 40 people have died and scores more have been injured in protests that began when Nkurunziza announced in late April that he would stand again, after Burundi’s constitutional court gave him the green light.

Nkurunziza’s opponents say his candidacy is unconstitutional and goes against the 2006 Arusha peace deal that ended 13 years of civil war.

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Nkurunziza survived a coup attempt last month and has since faced down international pressure, including aid cuts, aimed at forcing him to reconsider.

Nearly 100,000 Burundians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

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