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Burundi delays parliamentary and presidential elections

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Burundi has announced it is postponing both parliamentary and presidential elections that were due this month.

The move follows weeks of political turmoil that saw a failed coup attempt against President Pierre Nkurunziza after he bid for a third term.

East African leaders had earlier called for the delays.

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No new dates have been set but a spokesman for Mr Nkurunziza told the BBC they would be announced by the country’s electoral commission shortly.

The parliamentary elections had been scheduled to take place on Friday and the presidential poll on 26 June.

The spokesman, Willy Nyamitwe, said the new dates would take into account the recommendations of regional leaders and the requirements of the constitution.

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BBC World Service Africa editor Richard Hamilton says it looks as though Pierre Nkurunziza has finally bowed to outside pressure to postpone these controversial elections – certainly from regional leaders if not from the international community.

He says that although the president now seems to have acknowledged that it is almost impossible to hold free and fair elections amid the unrest, the move is unlikely to stop the protests.

Last weekend, regional leaders meeting in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam called for both the delay and an end to the violence.

Opposition parties in Burundi had said earlier on Wednesday they would be prepared to resume talks with the government on the crisis.

There have been weeks of protests since Burundi’s 51-year-old president announced that he would run for re-election.

Opponents have said this contravenes the constitution, which states a president can only be elected to two terms.

But Mr Nkurunziza argues that he is entitled to another term because he was first appointed by parliament in 2005.

Earlier in May, he survived a coup attempt after attending a regional conference in Tanzania.

The coup was launched by Maj Gen Godefroid Niyombare, a former ally of the president.

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