Burundi opposition leader Agathon Rwasa said a presidential election must be held by August at the latest, but a fair vote was unlikely without security and a free media. A planned June 26 poll looks increasingly untenable after more than a month of protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term. Parliamentary and local elections have already been postponed due to the unrest in which more than 30 people have been killed, according to activists. Burundi emerged from an ethnically fuelled civil war in 2005, and the crisis has stirred fears of a new bout of violent instability in Africa’s Great Lakes region. The country has a similar ethnic make-up to neighbouring Rwanda, where 800,000 people died in a 1994 genocide.
Rwasa, a presidential candidate and, like Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader, told Reuters in an interview that it was essential to have an elected government in place by Aug. 26, when the president’s current term ends.
“There is no room for a transitional government. We will have to comply with the constitution. We knew ahead of these elections that we should hold it so that we can have a newly elected president, and MPs and so on, by August this year,” Rwasa said.
Election commission CENI said on Wednesday it was delaying the local and parliamentary votes and was working on a new schedule. It made no mention of the presidential election.