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Friday 30 September 2016

Burundi poll postponed amid unrest

Published 20/05/2015 | 10:46

Police chase demonstrators in the Musaga neighbourhood of Bujumbura, Burundi (AP)
Police chase demonstrators in the Musaga neighbourhood of Bujumbura, Burundi (AP)
A young boy and a soldier watch demonstrators climb on to a container used as a barricade in Bujumbura, Burundi (AP)

Burundi president Pierre Nkurunziza has signed a decree to postpone parliamentary elections for a week as police battled with hundreds of protesters, wounding at least one person in continuing unrest over the president's bid for a third term in office.

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The parliamentary elections will be held on June 5, said Willy Nyamitwe, the presidential adviser for media.

Mr Nkurunziza's decision to delay the elections from May 26 followed requests from the electoral commission, opposition politicians and the international community, said Mr Nyamitwe.

The postponement comes after a failed coup last week which was triggered by weeks of unrest over Mr Nkurunziza's effort to extend his time in power.

Police were back on the streets battling protesters, who have continued to demonstrate despite Mr Nkrurunziza's order for an end to the street actions. At least 15 protesters have died since the protests began more than three weeks ago when the ruling party announced Mr Nkurunzinza would stand for another term.

Police shot tear gas canisters and live bullets, some from belted machine guns, mostly in the air, in the unrest hotspot of Musaga, a neighbourhood of the capital, Bujumbura. Army personnel in the area did not intervene.

A protester who identified himself only as Ndayisaba said he was shot in his leg.

"I was in the front line of the protests and then felt something warm trickling down my leg and I realised I had been shot," he said while being treated in a local clinic.

Honirine Irakoze said her 20-month-old child became choked from police tear gas. Police chasing stone-throwing protesters shot tear gas which went into her house, she said.

Protesters say Mr Nkurunziza's bid for a third term in the presidential election is illegal because the constitution only allows two five-year terms.

Burundi's constitution states a president can be popularly elected to two five-year terms. Mr Nkurunziza maintains he can run for a third term because parliament elected him for his first one.

A Burundi army officer said police killed a soldier who was trying to act as a buffer between police and protesters.

Captain Dismas Nduwamungu said the soldier was part of a group of army troops trying to stop the police from firing at protesters who were throwing stones.

He said the soldier was hit in the chest and died. Mr Nduwamungu said another soldier was wounded in the leg.

Press Association

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