Burundi President Swears In Electoral Officials Before Vote

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Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza swore in two new members of the National Independent Electoral Commission, a month before he seeks a third term.

Annonciate Niyonkuru was appointed vice president of the electoral body, while Alice Nijimbere will become a commissioner for finance, according to a statement published on the president’s website. They replace Spes Caritas Ndironkeye and Illuminata Ndabahagamye, who resigned earlier this month, according to the statement.

At least 77 people have been killed in Burundi and more than 1,000 detained since protests triggered by Nkurunziza’s announcement that he plans to extend his tenure, according to a local human-rights group. Opponents say his bid violates a two-term limit set out in peace agreements that in 2005 brought an end to a 12-year civil war.

Ndironkeye, the former vice president of the electoral commission, fled Burundi last month, according to the Harare-based Sunday News newspaper. Opposition activists said Ndironkeye and Ndabahagamye’s departures left the commission without a quorum to make decisions. The presidential election is scheduled to take place on July 15.

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 the nation’s southeast, which ranks as one of the 10 largest known deposits of the metal.

Ex-President’s Warning

The officials were sworn in as former Burundian President Domitien Ndayizeye, who handed over power to Nkurunziza a decade ago, warned the country’s political crisis will continue if the incumbent goes ahead with his re-election bid.

“We are appealing to the African Union and the United Nations to quickly come and help,” Ndayizeye said in an interview published in the Standard newspaper, based in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. If they don’t respond in time “Burundi might fall into a bigger crisis that might result in the country going back to civil war,” he said.

Ndayizeye was among those who negotiated the Arusha Accord that helped end the conflict in which 300,000 people were killed.

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