Burundi’s presidential election was postponed from its original date, July 15, to July 21 after a request from African leaders in an attempt to end the country's worst political crisis since the civil war ended in 2005.
When presidential spokesman Gervais Abayeho was asked whether the presidential election had been delayed, he told Reuters in phone text message: "Postponed to July 21."
The decree was signed by the president on Friday in response to the request made by leaders of east African nations including South Africa, Abayeho stated.
The delay is meant to provide time for Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to try to mediate between the opposing political groups in Burundi. Abayeho said the delay "would be beyond constitutional limits."
The constitution states that the presidential elections should be held at least a month before the end of the president’s term, which is August 26.
Burundi has been hit by weeks of civil unrest as the country’s opposition wants President Pierre Nkurunziza to withdraw his third-term presidential bid, which is widely considered as violating the country's constitution and the Arusha Accords, a 2005 peace deal that ended a civil war that lasted over a decade.
More than 70 people have been killed and 500 wounded since April during protests opposing Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term.
More than 100,000 people have fled Burundi since the start of the crisis in April, according to the UN.
Burundi’s constitution limits the presidency to two terms in office, but Nkurunziza's supporters say he can run again because he was elected to his first term by lawmakers rather than the public.
Despite the country’s opposition vowing to boycott the polls and the US withdrawing its assistance, Burundi’s parliamentary elections proceeded on time which took place on June 29.