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Burundi parliament head quits country, denounces president

AFP  |  Paris 

The head of Burundi's parliament today said he had left the nation due to the violence raging there and urged the president not to seek an "illegal" third term.

"For the moment, I am forced to stay in Brussels... I stayed here given the difficulties in my country, difficulties which are due to the illegal third mandate of the President of the Republic," Pie Ntavyohanyuma told France 24 channel in an interview from Brussels.

"On the eve of the election ... I would like to say to him (President Pierre Nkurunziza) that the mandate he wants to have is illegal. I would like to say to him that forcing through the election is senseless," added Ntavyohanyuma, Burundi's parliamentary speaker.

All the mediators in the country are urging Burundi to postpone the election to have an "inclusive" vote, noted Ntavyohanyuma, who is president of the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament.

"He could give up and ... Organise inclusive elections which could reconcile all Burundans who have been exiled to return to Burundi," he said.

He called on Nkurunziza to perform a "positive u-turn."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for Monday's polls to be scrapped after the opposition said it would not take part, as Burundi faces its worst crisis since its civil war ended nine years ago.

Three people were killed overnight yesterday, adding to the more than 70 who have lost their lives in violence and an attempted coup sparked by Nkurunziza's bid to stay in power for a third term.

Ntavyohanyuma rejected claims that the demonstrators had fomented the violence, saying: "Those who organised the protests told their supporters to march in peace, which was largely respected."

The opposition has said it will boycott the polls, claiming it is not possible to hold a fair vote with more than 127,000 people having fled into neighbouring countries for fear of further violence.

Parliamentary and local elections are set to be held on Monday, ahead of a presidential vote on July 15.

Despite the violence, Burundi's national election commission has said that everything is ready for elections in the central African nation.

"The President of the Republic should do a u-turn. The president is someone who has fought for Burundi to be a state of law.

"And we want to ask him to do a u-turn so that, after a few years in power, he does not institute a power that does not respect the law, a power that does not respect the constitution and the founding texts of the Republic," concluded the speaker.

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First Published: Sun, June 28 2015. 20:42 IST