News Africa

Saturday 10 December 2016

Gunfire heard in Burundi capital as army general attempts coup

Published 14/05/2015 | 08:52

Major General Godefroid Niyombare (C) arrives at the Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) broadcasting studios to address the nation in Burundi's capital Bujumbura
Major General Godefroid Niyombare (C) arrives at the Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) broadcasting studios to address the nation in Burundi's capital Bujumbura

Gunfire is being heard in the Burundi capital, a day after an army general announced he had ousted president Pierre Nkurunziza.

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Loud explosions were also heard in the centre of Bujumbura, which has been the scene of unrest and daily protests stemming from Mr Nkurunziza's controversial bid for a third term.

Thousands took to the streets yesterday to celebrate after Major General Godefroid Niyombare announced on a private radio station that Mr Nkurunziza had been relieved of his duties.

The president was in neighbouring Tanzania for a summit on his country's troubles at the time.

It remains unclear who is running the country, with the military said to be divided between Nkurunziza loyalists and those who back Maj Gen Niyombare.

Police withdrew from the streets of Bujumbura after Mr Niyombare's coup statement, and people thronged the streets and applauded soldiers who rode by in tanks and trucks.

But some officials remained loyal to Mr Nkurunziza, and his office said the coup attempt was unsuccessful.

At least 15 people were killed during daily protests over Mr Nkurunziza's bid for a third term. During almost three weeks of unrest, the military acted as a buffer between police and protesters who said the bid for a third term was a violation of the constitution and peace accords that ended a civil war.

Burundi's constitution says a president can be popularly elected to two five-year terms. Mr Nkurunziza maintains he can run for a third term because parliament elected him for his first one, leaving him open to be popularly elected to two terms.

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