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  • Protests have continued in Burundi a week after a failed coup.

    Protests have continued in Burundi a week after a failed coup. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 May 2015

Burundi's political crisis has continued to drag on even after an attempted coup was foiled.

Burundi's embattled president Pierre Nkurunziza agreed Wednesday to postpone parliamentary elections, but refused to change the date of the presidential vote.

Parliamentary and local elections were moved back from May 26 to June 6. However, the contentious presidential vote will remain scheduled for June 26.

For weeks Nkurunziza has been under pressure both domestically and internationally to postpone the presidential vote, amid simmering unrest in Burundi. A week ago Nkurunziza narrowly clung to power despite a military coup, after a series of anti-government protests.

The thwarted coup came as Nkurunziza was on an official visit to Tanzania. Two generals announced that they had taken control of the government and ousted the president. However, a day later and after intense fighting in the capital the generals announced that the coup had failed. The generals involved in the plot against the president were arrested shortly after.

Since the coup was foiled, protests have continued in Burundi's capital, Bujumbura, with demonstrators clashing with police throughout Wednesday and reports of small explosions in the city. The protests first began when opposition parties accused the president of violating the constitution, which imposes a two term limit on the president.

Nkurunziza says he should be eligible for another term, arguing his first term was by parliamentary appointment in the wake of a 2005 peace deal – not by popular vote. Burundi's constitutional court has ruled in favor of Nkurunziza, though one former judge has since accused the president of intimidation. “If we did not give the third term a green light, we were going to be in trouble,” the court's vice president Sylvere Nimpagaritse said earlier this month, after fleeing to Rwanda.

Human rights groups have warned that without a resolution to Burundi's political impasse, the country could face a humanitarian disaster.

According to the United Nations' refugee agency, the UNHCR, over 105,000 Burundians have already fled the country. Most have sought safety in neighboring Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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