Burundi opposition political parties on Wednesday in Bujumbura rejected a proposal issued on Monday by the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) to delay presidential polls to July 15.
A meeting over the new dates for the elections, was held before the CENI announced the proposal, attended by the ruling party and mainly its allies, while boycotted by major opposition groups.
The commission suggested that the presidential polls should be held on July 15, the parliamentary elections on June 26 and the senator elections on July 24, a timetable that was yet to be approved by the president Pierre Nkurunziza.
Frederic Bamvuginyumvira, Vice- Chairman of the Front for Democracy in Burundi, a member of the opposition coalition Democrats’ Alliance for Change, said the current commission was illegal to make decisions.
He said two of its five commissioners resigned early this month.
Bamvuginyumvira said the new election schedule doesn’t mean anything to the opposition because it was prepared by an illegal electoral commission, considering many factors.
He said the commission was not entitled to make any decision as the vacancy of the two commissioners violates Article 90 of Burundi’s constitution that provides its composition.
“Two out of the five CENI members resigned last week and fled the country fearing for their security.
“The CENI must be composed of men and women from all ethnic groups, but now with the resignation of the two Tutsi women, the CENI is now made up of three men, all of them Hutus.
“This means that the CENI is illegal and cannot therefore take any decision,” he said.
Bamvuginyumvira stressed that the opposition was ready to participate in elections that would be held in a favorable climate and prepared by a legal institution.
Burundi has been in turmoil since April 25 when President Pierre Nkurunziza, who has been in power since 2005, announced that he would run for a third term in the upcoming elections, in spite of warnings at home and abroad.
Opponents say Nkurunziza’s decision violates the constitution that limits the president to two terms in office.
His supporters however argue that his first term does not count as he was appointed by parliament, not elected by people.
A summit on Burundi crisis that brought together East African leaders in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, on May 31, urged a delay of at least six weeks to the elections.