US, EU Call For Burundi Election Delay, President Nkurunziza Disagrees
On Monday, 2,000 people took to the streets, defying the government’s ruling to stop street protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term. The mob marched through the neighborhood of Burundi’s capital.
According to the European Union Observer mission for the June elections, the Burundi administration was suppressing people’s freedom of expression, association and protest, according to The Associated Press.
David Martin, chief of the European Union Observer mission, said, “I take note that while demonstrations against the third mandate (term) have been banned and met with repression, demonstrations in favor of President Nkurunziza’s candidacy have been allowed and its participants protected.”
However, President Pierre Nkurunziza has ignored the proposition made by the U.S. and European Union to delay the elections slated for June. He added that such a postponement could adversely affect Burundi, according to BBC.
In protests against his bid for a third term, more than 18 people have been killed. Moreover, 50,000 people have escaped to neighboring states to evade possible violence, according to the UN refugee agency.
The demonstrations started on April 25 after Nkurunziza was nominated for another term in the elections slated for June.
Belgium withheld half of the 4 million euros it had allocated for the elections. The other half, 2 million euros ($2.2 million), has already been given.
The Netherlands and Switzerland were following suit.
Foreign Minister Laurent Kavakure, said, “It is just a suspension; our partners are asking the government to organize free, credible and transparent elections.”
With the U.S. and EU saying that the elections could not be conducted in June, Belgium has held back nearly $6 million (£3.8 million) in aid to the police, who have allegedly deployed tear gas, water cannons and live rounds toward the demonstrators.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the African Union (AU) commission chief agreed with the U.S. and EU’s claim that the current environment in Burundi would not be apt for elections.
Protestors claim that Nkurunziza’s election bid breaches the constitution and a peace deal that led to the end of the civil war in 2005. According to Reuters, 300 people demonstrated in Musaga on Monday.
The mob was shouting, “Let us pass into Bujumbura city to tell Nkurunziza that he is not allowed to run for a third term,” as they tried to enter the city center, but were blocked by the police.
Nkurunziza’s bid came after a constitutional court declared that he can be allowed to run for president since he served his first term after being elected by parliament that was not constituted by popular vote.
This decision has met with reproach from critics, who say that that court is prejudiced.
Nkurunziza has ruled Burundi for almost 10 years.
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