BUJUMBURA, Burundi Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, has been wracked by weeks of street protests after the ruling party nominated President Pierre Nkurunziza for a third term.
Parliamentary elections are currently scheduled for Friday, while the increasingly fraught presidential poll is set for June 26.
Protesters say Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term is illegal because the constitution only allows for two five-year terms, and some protesters are vowing to stay on the streets until Nkurunziza says he will not run for re-election. Nkurunziza came to power in 2005 and won a second term in 2010. He maintains he is eligible for a third term because parliament elected him for the first term.
An emergency meeting by regional leaders last weekend called on elections to be delayed by at least six weeks. But the government has rejected any postponement, saying any political vacuum in the country could lead to even more political violence.
Burundi, a country of 10 million people which exports mostly coffee and depends heavily on foreign aid, experienced an ethnic-based civil war from 1993 to 2003 which killed at least 250,000 people.
The protests in Bujumbura, which have left 20 dead and hundreds injured, came to a head on May 13 when an army general announced a coup against the president which was defeated in 48 hours.