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Burundi govt starts taxing public workers to fund 2020 elections

The Burundian government has started ‘taxing’ salaries of civil servants in order to fund the next general elections slated for the year 2020.

Workers are losing 10% of their monthly earnings into a fund set aside to ensure polls hold despite a withdrawal of international donor support.

The government has previously stated that workers earning between 50,000 and 500,000 Burundian francs ($28-280) would lose 5000 francs ($2.80) of their salary, whiles those earning above a million Burundian francs ($560) will part with one month’s salary a year.

[Support] for these contributions came from millions of Burundians. It’s not one, two or three [unions] that will stop life in this country.

The deductions have kicked off despite inconclusive talks with trade unions in the country. A government spokesperson justified the move in an interview with the BBC.

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

The country’s partners halted financial support as far back as 2015 following disputed election in which incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza contested and won a third term despite the having completed his final constitutional term in office. The polls were roundly condemned as not being free and fair.

The constitution has since been amended to allow Nkurunziza vie for multiple terms in office. He is expected to lead the ruling party into the 2020 elections. The country has been hit by a security and economic crisis with grenade attacks targeting top government officials and security operatives.

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