Burundi’s president has postponed upcoming parliamentary elections by a week shortly after retaking power following a failed coup. For weeks, Burundi has been rocked by protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to seek a third term in office, which protesters and opposition critics say is unconstitutional.
The government announced on Wednesday that the legislative elections, which had been scheduled for May 26, would be pushed back to June 5 after the electoral commission called “ to respond to a request from opposition parties, and finally to answer calls of the region and the international community,” the president’s media adviser Willy Nyamitw said, according to Agence France-Presse.
The presidential term limit was instituted after an ethnic conflict that killed 300,000 people before ending in 2005, when Nkurunziza came to power. He has led the country since then.
The protests continued Wednesday, with demonstrators gathering in the capital of Bujumbura to oppose Nkurunziza’s bid. Scattered gunfire was heard and police deployed tear gas against the demonstrators, Reuters reported. Protesters were also seen stopping traffic and erecting barricades, according to Al Jazeera.
The failed coup exposed deep rifts in the country’s military, when Major-General Godefroid Niyombare gained the support of several officers and government officials before being defeated by loyalists on Friday after pitched fighting in the capital. And South Africa and Kenya have said that the elections should be delayed until political stability returns to Burundi.
Over 110,000 people have fled the chaos to neighboring countries including Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania since the protests began in April, according to the United Nations.
Rights activists and opposition groups have accused Nkurunziza of repressing political dissent and trying to silence media outlets, but the administration said on Tuesday that it would not seek any extra-judicial revenge against anyone involved in the coup.
“The people implicated in the disgraceful attempt to overthrow legitimate institutions will be arrested and prosecuted by justice, and only by justice,” the government said, according to Reuters.