Burundi’s president pushed back parliamentary and local elections to June 5 on Wednesday and further clashes between police and protesters broke out in a power struggle threatening to unleash more ethnic bloodshed in Africa’s Great Lakes region. Reuters was there:
President Pierre Nkurunziza said the parliamentary and council vote would be postponed from May 26. His decree made no mention of the weeks of unrest in the capital Bujumbura or last week’s failed coup. His spokesman told Reuters the decision followed requests from opposition politicians and the international community. The most contentious election, for president on June 26, remained unchanged, he said.
Delaying the vote is unlikely to appease the protesters who say Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term breaks a two-term limit in the constitution and a deal that ended a long, ethnically charged civil war in 2005.
An estimated 300,000 died in the conflict, which started around the same time as the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda, which shares the same ethnic mix as Burundi between a Hutu majority and Tutsi minority.