The head of parliament of the Republic of Burundi has reportedly fled the country ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections on Monday. Pie Ntavyohanyuma left the country over ongoing violence in the build up toward the elections.
Speaking exclusively to France 24 news channel in an interview from Brussels, Ntavayohanyum called for the country’s current president, Pierre Nkurunziza, not to seek an “illegal” third term of presidency. According to Reuters, protesters took to the streets in Bujumbura, the nation’s capital, in protests of Nkurunziza’s pursuit of another five-year term, calling the move unconstitutional. The President, however, says a court ruling allows him to seek a third term.
The country's presidential election is slated to take place on July 15.
"For the moment, I am forced to stay in Brussels ... I stayed here given the difficulties in my country, difficulties which are due to the illegal third mandate of the President of the Republic," Ntavayohanyum said in the interview, adding, “On the eve of the election ... I would like to say to him (Nkurunziza) that the mandate he wants to have is illegal. I would like to say to him that forcing through the election is senseless."
Earlier last week, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also called for Monday’s vote to be postponed because of the ethnic violence that has driven more than 127,000 people out of the country. Ntavyohanyuma echoed these calls, saying that Burundi mediators are now calling for the elections on Monday to be postponed and to hold an “inclusive” election that would be more accurately representative of the Burundian people instead. "He could give up and ... organize inclusive elections which could reconcile all Burundians who have been exiled to return to Burundi," he said.
Agence France-Presse reports that three people lost their lives on Saturday in election-related violence as opposition forces clashed in attempts to boycott the polls. This brings the death-toll in Burundi to over 70 as the result of violence related to Nkurunziza’s bid for re-election.