Burundi’s Election Delay Fails to Stem Opposition Protests

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Burundian opposition activists resumed protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid to seek a third term, a day after the East African nation delayed parliamentary elections scheduled for Friday.

Demonstrators took to the streets of parts of the capital, Bujumbura, on Thursday, civil society group leader Pacifique Nininahazwe said in a statement on Facebook.

The parliamentary vote has been postponed for a second time and Nkurunziza will soon decide on a new election schedule, Prosper Ntahorwamiye, spokesman for the Independent National Electoral Commission, said late Wednesday by phone. No new date was given for the presidential poll, originally set for June 26.

At least 21 people have died and more than 550 have been injured in unrest in Burundi since Nkurunziza’s re-election bid was announced in late April, Burundi Red Cross spokesman Alexis Manirakiza told reporters Thursday in Bujumbura. Nkurunziza so far hasn’t heeded calls from the African Union and regional leaders to delay the presidential vote until stability is restored. His opponents say his candidacy violates a two-term limit set out in peace accords.

Burundi holds 6 percent of the world’s nickel reserves, according to the African Development Bank. Kermas Group, a London-based investment company, is developing a mine at Musongati in southeastern Burundi, which ranks as one of the 10 largest known deposits of the metal. Heineken NV owns a majority stake in Bujumbura-based Brarudi SA, Burundi’s biggest brewer.

More than 90,000 people have fled Burundi for neighboring countries since early April, fearing a return to conflict in a nation where 300,000 people died in a civil war that ended in 2005, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

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