Burundi Protests: Soldier Shot Dead, Elections Delayed By One Week

Burundi Protests: Soldier Shot Dead, Elections Delayed By One Week
Gitega Dave Proffer / Flickr CC BY 2.0
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Amid the demonstrations taking place in Burundi’s capital, a soldier was shot dead by a policeman.


According to BBC, the soldier was shot in the chest by accident after the police started firing at the demonstrators in Bujumbura. Details of the soldier’s death have not been released as of yet.

The protests are being carried out against President Pierre Nkurunziza‘s third-term bid. Despite the ban, the demonstrations have continued after Nkurunziza announced his candidature for the June elections. Although his candidature is a violation of the agreement that brought the ten-year civil war – from 1993 to 2003 – to an end, Nkurunziza argues that his bid is valid as his first term came as a result of being elected by the parliament, not a direct vote.

Police have unleashed deadly force on protestors standing against Nkurunziza’s candidacy. On Wednesday, the police fired tear gas and shot rounds in the air to pacify the situation.

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A presidential spokesman said the parliamentary and local council elections have been pushed back by one week to June 5 by Burundi’s president.

According to CNN, the official announcement regarding the postponement will be made by Nkurunziza at the country’s State House on Wednesday. Presidential spokesman Willy Nyamitwe said that the decision came after requests to delay the elections were made from Burundi’s Electoral Commission and East African leaders.

The unrest resulted in the deaths of more than 20 people, including a failed military coup a week ago.

Army Gen. Godefroid Niyombare and others involved in the coup were arrested after Nkurunziza returned from a summit in Tanzania on Friday. Nyamitwe said that the accused will be charged with mutiny in a military court.

On Friday, Nkurunziza praised security forces on “their patriotism” and Burundians “for their patience” in a post on Twitter.

Almost 300,000 people have lost their lives in the Burundi conflict, and more than 110,000 have taken refuge in Tanzania, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to Reuters, Carina Tertsakian, Human Rights Watch’s senior Burundi researcher, said, “The situation is so unstable and volatile that every day appears to be a flashpoint.

“The demonstrators are not backing down and the government is intensifying its crackdown.”

Nkrunziza has not offered any comment on the postponement of the June’s presidential elections. The African Union and EU have called that elections be delayed and that there be a dialogue to relieve the unrest.

However, Nkurunziza maintains that the elections will be conducted as planned.

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