Burundi says elections will go ahead

Bujumbura - Burundi's government insists that the first stage of controversial elections will go ahead next week despite the central African nation's ongoing political crisis.

Interior Minister Edouard Nduwimana said that even after the withdrawal of support from the influential Catholic Church and the European Union, parliamentary polls will take place on Friday next week.

Good conditions

"There isn't any electoral process that doesn't suffer from problems, in Burundi or any other country. We regret that certain partners have pulled out of the process... but despite this the elections will go ahead in good condition," he said.

"That the EU withdraws and that the Church withdraws its priests does not mean the elections should not take place. The Burundian people are thirsty for these elections and we need to do everything so they take place in good conditions," he added.

Burundi's crisis erupted over President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid for a third term in office, with opposition and rights groups saying the move violates the constitution as well as the terms of a peace deal that ended a 13-year civil war in 2006.

Burundi's capital has been hit by weeks of civil unrest which has left at least 30 dead in a major security crackdown, and the crisis intensified earlier this month when a top general staged a failed coup attempt - increasing fears that the impoverished, landlocked country could be plunged back into widespread violence.

Upcoming polls

Parliamentary elections are due to be held on June 5, with a presidential poll scheduled for June 26.

Burundi's Catholic Church said earlier that it could not support the upcoming polls and that priests who serve in electoral commissions across the country would step down.

The opposition has also said the holding of free and fair elections is impossible, with independent media silenced and allegations of threats and intimidation by Nkurunziza's supporters.


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