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Regional leaders urge indefinite postponement of Burundi vote

Regional leaders have called for the indefinite postponement of elections in Burundi in the wake of a failed coup attempt, South African President Jacob Zuma said Tuesday.

Zuma said a summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in the Angolan capital Luanda also decided to send a delegation of heads of state to Bujumbura as soon as possible in an attempt to help restore stability.

In a statement on his return from the summit, Zuma said leaders “strongly condemned the attempted coup d’etat”.

“The summit further agreed that the postponement of elections should not have a timeframe as there was unrest in the country and the elections should be postponed indefinitely until there’s stability,” he said in a statement.

South Africa has observer status in the ICGLR.

Last week, the heads of state of the East African Community summit in Tanzania also called for a postponement of the elections — but not beyond the mandate of the current government.

Parliamentary elections were due to be held in Burundi on May 26, ahead of the presidential vote a month later.

President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third consecutive term in office has been at the centre of country’s political crisis, with activists and the opposition arguing it goes against the constitution and the peace deal that brought an end to a 13-year civil war in 2006.

At least 20 people died in over two weeks of street battles with security forces before generals launched a failed coup attempt last week.