US, France urge opposition to end poll boycott

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France, the United States and other international partners urged Burundi's opposition Thursday to reverse its decision to boycott upcoming presidential polls.

"Following Burundi's historic local council elections, the international partners present in Burundi... regret the decision by five political parties to pull out of the presidential elections and urge them to reconsider," said a joint statement.

The statement was issued following a meeting of the main foreign partners of Burundi, including the UN special envoy and the ambassadors of Belgium, France, the United States and other countries.

Five top opposition parties earlier this week announced they were pulling out of the June 28 presidential election, alleging rigging by President Pierre Nkurunziza's ruling party in the May 24 local polls.

Among them was the National Liberation Forces party of Agathon Rwasa, whose former rebel movement laid down arms only last year and had been seen as Nkurunziza's main election challenger.

Foreign observers cited some irregularities in last month's local polls -- which saw the ruling party muster more than 60 percent of the vote -- but gave a generally positive assessment of the electoral process.

© 2010 AFP

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