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Kenya asks Nkurunziza to postpone election


President Pierre Nkurunziza


KENYA’S President Uhuru Kenyatta has told Burundi leader Pierre Nkurunziza that he should postpone a presidential election due next month after last week’s failed military coup, Kenyatta’s spokesman said yesterday.

Manoah Esipisu said the two leaders, whose nations belong to the East African Community (EAC) common market, had spoken by phone on Sunday. Kenyatta’s counterparts in the region shared his view, he added.

Yesterday, heavily armed soldiers were deployed in the capital, Bujumbura, days after the failed coup attempt that followed widespread protests against Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term.

In the Musaga neighbourhood, armed soldiers faced off yesterday with hundreds of angry protesters calling on Nkurunziza to rescind his decision, which many say is unconstitutional.

An Associated Press reporter in Musaga saw two soldiers firing live rounds into a crowd of protesters, who repeatedly shouted, “Shoot us.”

The soldiers were seen armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

There was no police presence, signalling the army, which previously had acted as a buffer between protesters and the police, has now taken over operations against demonstrators.

Regional leaders want the election date changed from June 26 to create a “conducive environment” but the vote should still be held within the current electoral cycle, which comes to an end in late August, Kenya’s Esipisu said.

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