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Burundi Cracks Down On Protesters In Pre-Election Violence

Clashes have left at least six people dead, the Burundi Red Cross said. Tens of thousands of Burundians have fled the country in the last month due to fears of repression.

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Protestors took to the streets of Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, for a third day on Tuesday over the president decision to seek a third term. In response, the government has deployed the police and military, leading to at times bloody clashes.

The protests began after President Pierre Nkurunziza's CNDD-FDD party on Saturday named him as their candidate in presidential elections set for June 26. In power since 2005, Nkurunzinza is a former rebel leader who has already served two terms.

His decision to seek a third term — in apparent violation of the the Arusha Peace Accords signed at the end of Burundi’s most recent civil war in 2005 — was not met well as evinced by the protests that sprang up on Sunday.

Simon Maina / AFP / Getty Images

The Burundian Senate has reportedly opted to ask the country's Constitutional Court whether Nkurunziza's candidacy is even legitimate. In the meantime, the majority of Burundians are opposed to the idea of a third term for the president.

Authorities say they have arrested more than 300 people as a result of the protests, which have yet to reach the heart of the capital thanks to police presence. At least one radio station has been shut down to prevent the protests' spread.

Esdras Ndikumana / Getty Images

According to Human Rights Watch, the police used "teargas, water cannons, and live ammunition" against demonstrations. The Burundi Red Cross on Monday said that at least six people had been killed as a result of the clashes.

Burundians have been fleeing across the border in increasing numbers. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, as of Tuesday 5,000 refugees had crossed into Rwanda in just two days.

Stephanie Aglietti / AFP / Getty Images

Since the beginning of April, according United Nations citing Rwandan government figures, nearly 21,000 Burundians, "mostly women and children have fled to Rwanda saying that they have experienced intimidation and threats of violence linked to the upcoming elections."

Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Hayes Brown at hayes.brown@buzzfeed.com.

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