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Burundi taking workers’ salaries to pay for elections

The Burundian government has begun deducting money from people’s salaries in order to pay for the country’s 2020 general election.

International donors have stopped sending money to the country following its disputed 2015 election in which President Pierre Nkurunziza sought, and won, a third term, despite being limited to two.

At the time, the US State Department, European Union and African Union all criticised the elections as not being free and fair.

In response, the government has begun deducting money amid ongoing talks with trade unions about the payments.

“The talks… will not stop this process,” Therence Nthahiraja, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told the BBC. “[Support] for these contributions came from millions of Burundians. It’s not one, two or three [unions] that will stop life in this country.”

When the deductions were first suggested earlier this month, a statement from the ministers of home affairs and finances suggested that civil servants earning 50,000 to 500,000 Burundian francs ($28-280; £20-£200) would be expected to pay 5000 francs ($2.80; £2) of their salary each month.

People earning above one million Burundian francs ($560; £400) were told they would lose one month’s salary a year.

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