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Burundi opposition to boycott parliamentary elections as UN calls for delay

Burundi's opposition has announced a boycott of next week's parliamentary elections in protest at the president's bid for a third term. The UN Secretary General has called for the vote to be postponed.

In the worst crisis since civil war ended in 2005, Burundi's opposition has announced a boycott of Monday's poll. Leaders said there were concerns the voting would not be fair.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday that voting should be postponed. He said he was "deeply concerned over the prevailing political and security environment."

A parliamentary election is due to take place on Monday with a presidential vote to follow on July 15. Burundi's Ambassador to the UN Albert Shingiro told the 15-member Security Council on Friday that the elections would go ahead on Monday.

The United States said that it was suspending electoral assistance to Burundi while President Pierre Nkurunziza continued to press ahead with an election timetable in the absence of conditions necessary for a credible vote.

The US State Department said it was taking the measure "in light of President Pierre Nkurunziza's continued efforts to violate the Arusha Agreement, seek a third term and press ahead with electoral dates absent the conditions necessary for credible elections."

The US "strongly opposes" any actions by regional states that could further destabilize Burundi, the State Department said. "We are prepared to take additional measures against those individuals responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy and the rule of law and promoting instability in Burundi."

jm/bk (AFP, Reuters)

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