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Iran Press TV

Burundian president postpones presidential polls to July 21

Iran Press TV

Sat Jul 11, 2015 3:38PM

Burundi's presidential office has announced the postponement of the West African nation's upcoming presidential election to July 21, almost a week after the date originally set for the event.

The Saturday development came in a presidential decree signed by President Pierre Nkurunziza, who has raised major controversy in the country following his announced bid to seek a third consecutive term in office.

The bid is seen by opponents as contrary to the country's constitution, which allows presidents only two consecutive terms in office. The move has prompted weeks of civil unrest and violence across the country. The country's opposition and rights groups also say that Nkurunziza's re-election bid is in violation of a peace accord that ended a dozen years of civil war in the impoverished nation in 2006.

They further argue that weeks of protests in the country and a violent crackdown by government security forces suggest that free and fair polls would not be possible.

According to the Saturday decree, the voting date would be pushed back from July 15 to July 21, with electoral campaigning extended until the evening of July 18.

The development came as the five-nation East African Community (EAC), which has been attempting to mediate a resolution of the crisis, urged the postponement of the elections by two weeks last Monday in a bid to allow more time for talks between Nkurunziza's ruling CNDD-FDD party and the opposition.

This is while the country's parliamentary elections, in which the CNDD-FDD achieved a landslide win, were held on May 29, although the polls were internationally censured and boycotted by opposition groups.

Meanwhile, at least 12 gunmen were reported killed in clashes with Burundian government soldiers on Saturday in a northern region near the border with Rwanda.

The clashed erupted on Friday near Rugazi, 140 kilometers north of the country's capital, Bujumbura, a regional authority said.

The assault has been claimed by rebel Burundian army soldiers that attempted but failed to topple Nkurunziza in a coup in mid-May.

So far, more than 70 people have been killed after over two months of protests in the country, while more than 158,000 refugees have fled to neighboring countries, the latest UN figures show.

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