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11.05.2015 Burundi

EU, US call for Burundi election delay

Demonstrators raise their hands at a rally held by women in Bujumbura, Burundi, on May 10, 2015.  By Landry Nshimye (AFP)
LISTEN MAY 11, 2015
Demonstrators raise their hands at a rally held by women in Bujumbura, Burundi, on May 10, 2015. By Landry Nshimye (AFP)

Bujumbura (Burundi) (AFP) - The European Union and United States called for a delay to elections in Burundi Monday after deadly protests triggered by the president's bid for a third term.

"We encourage the government of Burundi to take measures to calm the situation, and the idea of a delay in the electoral timetable would be for us a good thing," EU Special Envoy Koen Vervaeke told reporters.

US ambassador Dawn Liberi read a similar statement.

Vervaeke, speaking on behalf of the EU as well as Switzerland, said that "the minimum conditions to go for the elections are not met - that is, the freedom of the media and to demonstrate peacefully."

At least 19 people have been killed and scores wounded since late April, when the ruling CNDD-FDD nominated President Pierre Nkurunziza to stand for re-election, triggering daily protests.

Belgium, The Netherlands and Switzerland have suspended vital funding for the elections over the violence.

Belgium, the former colonial ruler, suspended aid to the electoral process in Burundi, withholding two million euros ($2.2 million) of backing. The first half of the package, another two million euros, has already been paid.

The Netherlands and Switzerland later followed suit.

Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader from the Hutu majority who has been in power since 2005, has come under intense international pressure to withdraw from next month's election and stand down.

African Union Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma last week warned the time was not right for elections, and that it was "clear that there shouldn't be a third term."

Hundreds of opposition supporters defied government orders to end their demonstrations Monday on the streets of the capital Bujumbura, despite the security services ripping down barricades set up during days of protests.

The youth wing of the ruling CNDD-FDD party, the Imbonerakure, is accused of carrying out attacks against opposition supporters.

Vervaeke said it was "very disturbing" to have weapons in the hands of groups acting outside the remit of the official security forces.

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