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Burundi presidential elections postponed to July 21 amid security fears

Marco Longari, AFP | Incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third presidential term triggered violent reactions

Burundi's presidential elections have been postponed by nearly a week, an official said Saturday, days after U.N. official warned the president's decision to seek a third term could spark an explosion of violence.

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Presidential Spokesman Gervais Abayeho said the vote will be held July 21, six days later than originally scheduled. He said the postponement was made following a request earlier in the week by regional leaders from the East African Community, a regional bloc.

Burundi has been hit by violence since the April announcement Nkurunziza would run for a third term in presidential elections that had been set for July 15.

Protesters say Nkurunziza must go because the constitution limits the president to two terms, but the president's supporters say he is eligible for a third term because he was chosen by lawmakers - and not popularly elected - for his first term.

On Friday, 12 people believed to be members of an unknown rebel group were killed by the Burundian army when they attacked the town of Kabarore near the border with Rwanda, provincial governor Canesius Ndayimanisha said.

In the capital Bujumbura, grenades were thrown in several surrounding suburbs of Friday night, deputy police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said. No one was wounded, Nkurikiye said.

The U.N. human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein told the U.N. Security Council Thursday that "the risk to human life, and to regional stability and development, is high" as a result of escalating politically motivated violence and Burundi's history of recurring bloodshed and atrocities.

(AP)

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