The African Union has called for a postponement of Burundi’s July 15 presidential election, saying a new date should be decided through negotiations between the government and opposition. Erastus Mwencha, deputy chairperson of the African Union commission, said the proposed date is based on information the AU gathered through consultation with all stakeholders, including a report from leaders of the East African community. The election date, originally June 26, was changed by presidential decree following an electoral commission proposal. Violent protests in Burundi have taken place since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term, a move the president’s critics say would violate a two-term limit in the constitution. Nkurunziza’s supporters argue he is eligible to run again because he was appointed by lawmakers to his first term in office, and not elected by a popular vote.
Mwencha said the AU believes a new election date should be determined by a consensus among the Burundian stakeholders. “The main approach of the African Union has been that [we should] let the people and the institutions of Burundi solve their problem and solve it within the constitution, solve it within the laid down procedures, and they must then make sure that they create a conducive environment under which an election can take place, including the issue of third term,” he said.
Mwencha also confirmed the AU will send about 50 military experts to Burundi to ensure that no human rights violations have been taken place there.