Delay elections, EAC tells Burundi

Burundian refugees being transported to Kigoma. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

Burundian refugees being transported to Kigoma. The EAC has urged Burundi to postpone elections and called for changes that would allow refugees to return.  Photo: Daniel Hayduk

East African Community (EAC) leaders met in Dar es Salaam on Sunday to urge Burundi to delay elections as the country continues to grapple with unrest triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in power.

“The summit, concerned at the impasse in Burundi, strongly calls for a long postponement of the elections not less than a month and a half,” says EAC secretary general Richard Sezibera.

The EAC also called for an end to violence, the “disarmament of all armed youth groups” and conditions that would allow for “the return of refugees.”

Over 70,000 Burundi refugees have fled to Tanzania since April and nearly two dozen have been killed in the violence.

The protests came to a head earlier this month when an ex-army general announced a coup d’etat while Nkurunziza was in Dar to attend a meeting on the Burundi crisis.

Nkurunziza didn’t attend the meeting in Dar today and was represented by the foreign minister.

His spokesman says the president was busy with his election campaign.

While Rwanda also sent a minister, Heads of State from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and South African President Jacob Zuma attended the meeting.

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