(AA) – The U.S. is deeply disappointed that Burundi held parliamentary elections Monday despite calls from the international community that the country’s president not run for a third term, a State Department official said.
“We call on President Pierre Nkurunziza to place the welfare of his country and people ahead of his wish to serve a third term by heeding the calls for dialogue and demonstrating respect for the Arusha Agreement, including its provisions on term limits,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
The Arusha Agreement signed in 2000 ended the civil war between various rebel groups in the country and paved the way for elections in 2005.
The U.S., African Union and the UN Secretary General have long urged Nkurunziza not to go against the Constitution and the accords banning individuals from running for a third term as president.
Burundi’s Constitutional Court recently ruled that Nkurunziza’s bid for a third-term would not violate the Constitution, reasoning that because he was elected in 2005 by parliament and not popular vote, Nkurunziza’s first stint in office should not be counted as a first presidential term.
Kirby urged the Burundian government to return negotiations and join a UN-led political dialogue.
Tensions flamed in the country during the election as some protesters blocked voters from entering polling booths.
Polls were scheduled to open at 6 a.m. local time (0400 GMT), but stations didn’t open until 8.30 a.m. (0630 GMT).