Coup Latest: Celebration, Confusion In Burundi | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Coup Latest: Celebration, Confusion In Burundi

Posted: May 13, 2015 at 7:52 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

The Burundi was tense Wednesday amid conflicting reports of a coup against the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

But crowds of people streamed onto the streets of Burundi’s capital, cheering and singing, after the coup announcement and soldiers surrounded the state broadcaster building.

This is just as protesters were in the streets again Wednesday, protesting the president’s bid for a third term. In some neighborhoods, they battled past police in an effort to reach the downtown area.

Reports said soldiers have stationed themselves outside the state radio in the centre of the capital, Bujumbura.

This is coming after an army general said that he had sacked Nkurunziza as president for seeking an unconstitutional third term in office, and was working with civil society groups to form a transitional government.

Major Gen. Godefroid Niyombare said Wednesday that President Nkurunziza’s mandate is over, however, whether he had the support of the military was unclear as gunfire echoed in the streets.

The presidential office quickly dismissed the declaration by Niyombare, who was fired by Nkurunziza as intelligence chief in February.

“We consider it as a joke not as a military coup,” presidential aide Willy Niyamitwe told Reuters.

Burundi’s presidency, in a message posted on Twitter, said: “The situation is under control, there is no coup in Burundi.”

Gen. Niyombare announced the coup to reporters at a military barracks in Bujumbura, while the president was out of the country at an African summit on the crisis.

Niyombare, also a former ambassador to Kenya, was surrounded by several other senior officers in the army and police, including a former defence minister.

“Regarding President Nkurunziza’s arrogance and defiance of the international community which advised him to respect the constitution and Arusha peace agreement, the committee for the establishment of the national concord decide: President Nkurunziza is dismissed, his government is dismissed too,” he said.

Niyombare announced the creation of a temporary ruling committee to re-establish stability of which he is the president.

The confused picture comes after weeks of violence.

More than 20 people have been killed since street protests erupted in the country more than two weeks ago.

Police also fired tear gas and water cannons on Wednesday to deter protesters trying to enter the central business district of Bujumbura. A group of women protesters managed to infiltrate the police cordon and entered the central business district.

Nkurunziza had joined other East African Community leaders from Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam for a special meeting to discuss the turmoil in Burundi.