Burundi’s Nkurunziza sacks ministers in post-attempted coup cabinet reshuffle

Heavily armed troops in charge of dealing with protestors

Heavily armed troops in charge of dealing with protestors

Following the recent failed coup against his presidency by renegade generals in the Burundi military, President Pierre Nkurunziza has dismissed three cabinet members in his a cabinet reshuffle today.

Laurent Kavakure, minister for Foreign Affairs has been replaced by Alain Aimé Nyamitwe who was the Burundi Ambassador to the African Union, while the Minister of Defence Major-General Pontien Gaciyubwenge has been replaced by a civilian, Emmanuel Ntahonvukiye and the the minister for Commerce, Marie-Rose Nizigiyimana, has been replaced by Irina Inantore.

The motives for the cabinet reshuffle were not given. “The Constitution gives full powers to the President, including that of changing the cabinet members. Ministers are monitored every day and the president can take any step one he thinks it’s necessary,” the President’s Spokesperson Gervais Abayeho told reporters in Bujumbura without commenting on the thwarted coup.

Protestors not backing down

Protestors not backing down

Meanwhile, anti-3rd term protests continued in and outside Bujumbura today, where demonstrators confronted security forces who fired warning rounds in the air to disperse crowds and prevent them from accessing downtown.

Unlike in the days leading up the attempted coup when it was the police battling protestors as the military was idly watching, now the military is front and center in the fight against protestors.

The army have taken things in things in their own hands in various neighborhoods of Bujumbura, as police officers can only be spotted down town in a peripheral role.

Protesters were visibly shaken as the military has threatened to label them as coup plotters and also use live bullets against them.

Protesters who trusted the military before the coup attempt now have a different opinion of the heavily armed men ‘keeping’ the piece.

“They have been sent to kill us because Pierre Nkurunziza considers us as coup plotters. We’re ready to die until he withdraws his candidacy,” said one of the angry protesters.

The situation remains so tense in Bujumbura. On Sunday, the beleaguered President warned of a possible Al-Shabaab attack, but organizers of the protests say this was the president’s ploy to deflect attention from the main issue at hand; whether or not he is eligible to run for a the third term.

“There has always been reports of possible Al-Shabaab attacks, but nothing has happened yet. This time, it’s a trick, he wants to kill us and say that we have been killed by Al-Shabaab,” said another irritated protester said.

On their side, Al-Shabaab have denied Nkurunziza’s claim of an impending attack “we think that this is an attempt by him to appease his people, who are standing in the streets protesting against his dictatorship, or to divert the world’s attention from him while he possibly prepares his mass revenge,” Al- Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mahamud Rage said in a statement to Reuters.