The Burundian president, Pierre Nkurunziza, has postponed parliamentary elections to June 5,, this year after weeks of violent protests and a failed coup. The elections had earlier been fixed for May 26.
Communicating the postponement, the president’s media adviser, Willy Nyamitwe said the decision was a response to “a proposal from the electoral commission, to respond to a request from opposition parties, and finally to answer calls of the region and the international community”, Willy Nyamitwe, the president’s media adviser, said.
No decision has been made as to whether the presidential poll set for 26 June would also be delayed. “Wait and see,” Nyamitwe said.
The EU and the African Union called for a delay to the elections on Tuesday, and South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, said the polls should be postponed indefinitely, after a meeting of Africa’s Great Lakes bloc of nations.
At least 20 people have been killed in weeks of street battles with security forces. Demonstrations ended last week when generals launched a failed coup attempt but resumed this week.
Security forces fired warning shots and teargas to disperse the crowds on Wednesday, but they swiftly regrouped elsewhere.
Opposition and rights groups say Nkurunziza’s bid for a third five-year term in power is unconstitutional and the terms of the peace deal that ended the 13-year civil war in 2006.
But Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader and born-again Christian who believes he has divine backing to lead the country, argues his first term did not count as he was elected by parliament, not by the people.
He has been accused by rights groups of waging a campaign of repression against opponents and trying to silence independent media since coup leaders admitted defeat on Friday after fierce fighting with loyalist troops.