Burundi’s government said Tuesday that President Pierre Nkurunziza would not end his bid for a third term in power despite weeks of opposition protests as the country’s electoral commission proposed a new date for the controversial election.
The dispute over the upcoming presidential vote has thrown the country into weeks of chaos. The protesters say President Nkurunziza is violating the constitution by running, while Nkurunziza, backed by Burundi’s constitutional court, insists his bid is legal.
At least 20 civilian demonstrators have been killed in clashes with police, who have used a combination of tear gas, water cannon and live ammunition.
Some protesters have vowed to stay on the streets until Nkurunziza retracts his bid.
But government spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba said in a radio broadcast Monday there was no chance of the president standing aside.
“This decision is non-negotiable,” he said.
The presidential vote had originally been scheduled for June 26, but on Monday Burundi’s electoral commission the CENI proposed a delayed date of July 5.
The commission also proposed delaying parliamentary elections until June 26 and holding elections for the Senate on July 24. The parliamentary election had been scheduled to take place on June 5 but was postponed indefinitely on the eve of the vote.
The head of the electoral commission, Pierre-Claver Ndayicariye, said the proposal to hold the presidential election on July 16 was in line with recommendations made by East African leaders.