Burundi’s electoral body has delayed planned local and parliamentary elections in response to an appeal from African leaders, the head of the election body said on Wednesday, after more than a month of protests against the president’s bid for a third term. President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third mandate has plunged the nation into its worst crisis since an ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005. The protesters say his move violates the constitution, which sets a two-term limit. The almost daily protests erupted on April 26 and activists say more than 30 people have been killed so far, making the timetable that envisages a parliamentary vote on Friday and a June 26 presidential poll appear increasingly untenable.
With no sign of an end to the unrest, African leaders meeting at a summit in Tanzania called for a delay in the election timetable of at least a month and a half. Western donors and opposition parties have also urged a postponement.
“The June 5 local and parliamentary elections are postponed until another date that is unknown. The authorized persons will announce it in hours, in days ahead,” electoral body CENI president Pierre Claver Ndayicariye said in a broadcast on state television. Ndayicariye made no mention of presidential elections.