EAC leaders condemn Burundi attempted coup, urge Nkurunziza reinstatement

 

niyombare

Major General Godefroid Niyombare, attempted coup leader

 

Hours after a prominent general in the Burundian  military announced the army was taking over government and dismissing President Pierre Nkurunziza, East African leaders are condemning the attempted coup d’état and calling for immediate restoration of the constitutional rule in the country.

The leaders,  who were meeting (together with Nkurunziza) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to discuss the deteriorating situation in Burundi, watched from afar as General Godefroid announced that he was taking over as interim President of Burundi.

Sources say Nkurunziza did not actually attend the high stakes meeting, he hunkered down in his room at Serena Hotel as he keenly followed the unfolding dramatic events in his country.

Speaking on behalf of regional leaders, the Chairman of the East African Community (EAC), as well as Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said  “We want the military to hand back power to allow a rule of law in Burundi”

Kikwete also revealed the leaders had resolved the forthcoming general elections in Burundi be postponed until peace is restored.

The EAC chairman and the host of the meeting however maintained the Burundian electoral process should be guided by the country’s constitution.

coup photo1

Burundians join in with the military to celebrate

 

This is rather problematic because the constitution stipulates the shall be “popularly” elected to two five year terms, Nkurunziza, who was almost finishing his second term prior to the coup attempt, contends he is eligible to run for a third term, a decision that has sparked off massive and violent protests in the country for the last two weeks.

EAC leaders have agreed to meet in a fortnight to deliberate on the progress of the situation in Burundi.

The meeting was attended by Ugandan President Yoweri Museven, President Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), President Paul Kagame (Rwanda) and President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and other regional and international envoys.

How the Coup unfolded

Around 10am local time, police and protesters clashed in several places of the inner city of Bujumbura whereby protesters tried to place roadblocks across several streets.

coup photo3

Burundians Celebrating announcement of the attempted Coup in Bujumbura

 

A fierce battle ensued for several hours, whereby police arrested dozens of protesters, suddenly the heavily armed Burundian military swung into action and started blocking all roads leading to downtown Bujumbura.

Through a local radio address, Major General Godefroid Niyombare, the former chief of staff and head of the National Intelligence Agency announced that Pierre Nkurunziza had been dismissed as president

coup photo2

Burundians celebrating

“Considering the decadence of the country in all parts of life, especially human rights violations, as a result of President Nkurunziza’s will to cling to power against the will of many, after the announcement of the 3rd term bid of Pierre Nkurunziza in the violation of the Constitution and the Arusha Peace Agreement, regardless of numberless calls from everywhere asking him to renounce to the controversial candidacy, President Nkurunziza is relieved of his duties as president and the current cabinet is dissolved.” Major Gen. Niyombare said in the lengthy announcement.

The attempted coup leader then announced the establishment of a temporary committee for the restoration of national harmony whose mission is to initiate a new process of governing the country, national institutions and the resumption of the electoral process in a peaceful and calm climate.

coup photo4

Major Gen. Niyombare appointed himself head of the interim governing committee, and vowed to consult with political actors, civil society and religious groups to take corrective measures of the national life, beginning with the most urgent.

General Niyombare’s announcement was greeted by euphoria as thousands of Burundian took to the streets of Bujumbura to celebrate the military coup.

The police, who were hunting down protesters around Bujumbura immediately disappeared.

The army then fought their way to take over control of the National Radio-Television of Burundi (RTNB), the government major broadcaster.

Signals of the three radio stations, Isanganiro, Bonesha and RPA, were immediately reopened; the three broadcasting stations were shut down by President Nkurunziza’s government at the onset of the anti-third term protests.

Fluid situation

Reports from Tanzania and Burundi are unclear whether or not President Nkurunziza returned to Burundi. Some sources say he left Dar es Salaam for Bujumbura but given the fact that Maj. General had announced closure of the airport and land border posts to prevent his return to the country, Nkurunziza’s location and status is not known at the moment, some unconfirmed reports indicate he tried to enter Burundi but his plane was denied access so he flew back to Tanzania.

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza

President or Ex-President?: Pierre Nkurunzinza whereabouts not known at the moment

 

Burundi’s presidency has released a statement condemning the attempted coup and assured the public that everything was under control,”this coup attempt has been foiled and that these people, who read the coup announcement on the radio, are being hunted by defence and security forces so that they can be brought to justice.” Statement from the presidency read.

Also there have been reports of heavy gunfire around the capital Bujumbura overnight, especially around the government broadcaster RTNB

 

.