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US calls for Burundi election delay

03 July 2015, 15:28

Washington - The United States called on Thursday for presidential elections in Burundi to be delayed, ratcheting up international pressure on the defiant incumbent Pierre Nkurunziza.

More than 70 people have been killed in two months of protests against Nkurunziza's bid for a third term, as Burundi awaits results from parliamentary elections boycotted by the opposition and condemned internationally.

Monday's polls - declared not free or credible by UN observers - kickstarted a series of elections, with presidential polls on July 15.

State Department spokesperson John Kirby urged Nkurunziza "to place the welfare of Burundi's citizens above his own political ambitions and participate in dialogue with the opposition and civil society to identify a peaceful solution to this deepening crisis.

"This solution should include the delay of the July 15 presidential elections until conditions are in place for free, fair and peaceful elections."

The United States was also suspending several security assistance programmess with Burundi, Kirby added, including training for the military.

"The Burundian government's decision to push forward with the June 29 parliamentary elections despite the complete absence of the necessary conditions for credible elections and widespread calls, including from the African Union and United Nations, to delay the voting further exacerbated an already dire situation," Kirby said.

Opponents say Nkurunziza's bid for another term is unconstitutional and violates a peace accord that paved the way for the end of 13 years of civil war in 2006.

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