BUJUMBURA, Burundi — Catholic Church leaders said on Thursday they no longer support the Burundi government’s decision to hold elections next month amid political unrest over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term. The European Union also said it was suspending its election observer mission here.

The Conference of Catholic Bishops of Burundi said in a statement that it is withdrawing from an earlier agreement with the government that would have seen priests monitoring elections across the country, piling more pressure on an administration that is facing international calls to postpone the elections.

In a statement Thursday, the EU said it was suspending its election observer mission in Burundi over concerns about restrictions on the independent media, excessive use of force against demonstrators and the intimidation of opposition parties and civic groups.

Burundi’s government says elections must go ahead because a postponement would create a dangerous political vacuum.


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