Kenyatta asks Burundian leader to postpone polls

2015-05-18 11:10
Kenya's new president Uhuru Kenyatta. (File, AFP)

Kenya's new president Uhuru Kenyatta. (File, AFP)

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Nairobi - Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta has told Burundi's president Pierre Nkurunziza to postpone elections due in the next few months after last week's failed military coup, Kenyatta's spokesman said on Monday.

Manoah Esipisu, the spokesperson for Kenyatta, wrote on his Twitter feed that the two leaders, whose nations belong to the East African Community (EAC) common market, had spoken by phone.

Regional leaders want the election date changed from June 26 to create a "conducive environment" but the vote should still be held within the current electoral cycle, which comes to an end in late August, Esipisu said.

The landlocked east African nation has been plunged into crisis since Nkurunziza pushed for a third term of office, a move his opponents say breaks the constitution and a 2005 peace agreement that ended an ethnically driven civil war.

As many as 300 000 people died in the war, and there are fears the current crisis could inflame lingering tensions between the majority Hutu population and the Tutsi minority.

More than 105 000 people have fled to neighbouring states, including Rwanda, which has the same ethnic mix as Burundi and which was torn apart by a genocide in 1994 that killed 800 000 mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

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