Friday, May 15, 2015

Burundi coup: Mutineer general says plot has failed, Nkurunziza returns



Media caption Maud Jullien reports from the capital, Bujumbura: ''At least five soldiers were killed in support of the attempted coup''

One of the renegade generals who tried to seize power in Burundi says he recognises that their attempt to overthrow the president has failed.

General Cyrille Ndayirukiye told the AFP news agency that most in the military wanted to keep the current government in power.

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza has tweeted he is back in the country.

Throughout Thursday there were fatal clashes in the capital, Bujumbura, leaving at least five soldiers dead.

The whereabouts of the man who launched the coup, Maj Gen Godefroid Niyombare, are unknown.

Thousands celebrated on the streets of the capital after Gen Niyombare announced the takeover on national radio on Wednesday whilst President Nkurunziza attended a summit in Tanzania.

This followed weeks of protests against Mr Nkurunziza's decision to seek a third term in office, an apparently unconstitutional move, causing tens of thousands to flee the country.


'Overpowering military determination'


The Burundi military claim that they control the city's airport and national state TV and radio stations. BBC reporters say the streets seem to be mainly in the control of loyalist police.

The military had said that they believe the number of troops supporting the coup has dwindled.

This appears to be in line with Gen Ndayirukiye's admission that the coup had not succeeded.

"Personally, I recognise that our movement has failed," he said, according to AFP.

"We were faced with an overpowering military determination to support the system in power," he added.




In his Twitter posting, Mr Nkurunziza said: "I thank the army and police for their patriotism. Above all I thank Burundians for their patience."

The president's spokesman, Gervais Abayeho, confirmed that the president was back in the country and that elections would continue as planned.

"The president is in a good mood, he doesn't see any problem at all. He's been elected by the people, he's going to run again."



"We are in control of all strategic points in the country. Burundi is a democratic nation. The army does not interfere in politics. We are obliged to follow the constitution."


Tens of thousands flee


The unrest began after the 51-year-old president said he would run for re-election in June.

Opponents said this contravened the constitution, which states a president can only be elected to two terms.

Mr Nkurunziza argued he was entitled to a third term because he was first appointed to the role by parliament in 2005, rather than elected.

Earlier this month, the country's constitutional court upheld his interpretation.

More than 20 people have died and tens of thousands of Burundians have fled to neighbouring states since the unrest began.