The European Union has suspended its election monitoring mission in Burundi where President Pierre Nkurunziza is seeking a third term next month.
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However, Burundi’s main opposition parties said on Wednesday that foreign governments should not recognize the election results, adding that fair elections were “impossible”.
Russia disagreed arguing that the elections were an internal matter and that the bloc should support efforts to help Burundians resolve the dispute themselves.
Analyst Willy Nindorera said the Church announcement was a major blow to the government – which has had to appeal to “patriotic citizens” to donate money so the elections can be held after key international donors stopped their funding.
“The government of Burundi is profoundly preoccupied by the current diplomatic activity which could undermine and denigrate our republican institutions and constitution”, government spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba said on state radio.
Street protests have taken place for the past month, leaving at least 30 dead after a violent crackdown by security forces. Thursday was mostly calm, however.
Opponents say his re-election bid violates the constitution that limits the president to two terms in office. Only small groups of demonstrators gathered in the districts of Cibitoke and Buterere, and shots were heard ringing out in the area, AFP correspondents said.
Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from a protest site in Bujumbura on Tuesday, said that police appeared to have fired live rounds, in addition to tear gas, to disperse demonstrators who were trying to march in the centre of the city. France also said Tuesday it was halting security cooperation.
The issue of a third term is non-negotiable, FORSC insisted, while at the same time expressing hope that the forthcoming East African Community Summit will come up with recommendations that will restore peace in Burundi.
The court ruled that, since he was elected in 2005 by parliament and not by the people, Nkurunziza’s first stint in office should not be counted as a first presidential term per se.
There was no comment from Burundian authorities on the claim.
Nkurunziza was at an EAC summit in Dar es Salaam on May 13 when the coup attempt was launched, but an EAC statement said all the bloc’s leaders would attend the next meeting.