Burundi President Nkurunziza faces attempted coup


A coup attempt has been launched in Burundi to try to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza, amid unrest over his bid to be re-elected to a third term.

Thousands of people in the capital, Bujumbura, celebrated the announcement by Major General Godefroid Niyombare.

However, the outcome of the coup is far from clear.

President Nkurunziza is currently in Tanzania. The presidency said the coup had been foiled and the perpetrators would be brought to justice.

Mr Nkurunziza has been meeting other East African leaders to discuss the crisis. Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said the summit condemned the coup.

Latest Burundi and Africa updates

A statement from the Burundi presidency said: “It is with regret that we have learned that a group from the armed forces mutinied this morning and declared an imaginary coup.

Media captionIn an address on a private radio station, Gen Niyombareh said the government was dissolved

“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.”


The BBC’s Maud Jullien in Bujumbura says thousands of protesters marched to the city centre alongside soldiers and two tanks after the coup was announced.

Police shot at the soldiers and the crowd. At least two protesters were killed.

Protesters in Bujumbura celebrate the apparent dismissal of the president, 13 May
Protesters in Bujumbura celebrate the apparent dismissal of the president

At the scene: BBC Africa’s Ruth Nesoba in Bujumbura

What I can see right now is a lot of police checks on the road, they are stopping every vehicle, ensuring that those travelling are not carrying any weapons. We can see truckloads of army personnel driving past where I am standing, perhaps trying to get them to military bases.

When the general made the announcement there was a mixed reaction and some gunfire around the capital. In some parts there was panic and fear; people were running to safety, locking themselves into any building they could find. But there were also those who were celebrating, saying that this is what they wanted.


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The protesters continued to march, one telling the BBC this was a victory after weeks of protests.

They reached the offices of the state broadcaster which was still in the control of soldiers loyal to the president.

There are some reports that forces supporting the coup are now trying to enter the building and are meeting resistance.

Other reports say those loyal to the president and those supporting the coup are now in negotiations.

BBC reporters in the capital say that protesters have broken into the national jail and have released detained demonstrators, before burning down the building.

All international flights into and out of Bujumbura are currently cancelled.


Coup bid leader: Gen Godefroid Niyombare, 46

  • Former rebel CNDD-FDD commander and ally of President Nkurunziza
  • First ethnic Hutu army chief – a significant step in reconciliation efforts
  • A negotiator in peace talks with last rebel group FNL
  • Oversaw Burundi’s deployment to Somalia as part of African force
  • Served as ambassador to Kenya
  • Dismissed as intelligence chief in February three months after his appointment
  • Dismissal came days after he recommended against the third-term bid

Electoral process

Gen Niyombare, in a statement read to reporters in a military base, said he did not recognise the leadership because the president’s bid for a third term violated the constitution.

In a radio broadcast on a private station, Gen Niyombare said: “The masses have decided to take into their own hands the destiny of the nation to remedy this unconstitutional environment into which Burundi has been plunged.

“The masses vigorously and tenaciously reject President Nkurunziza’s third-term mandate… President Pierre Nkurunziza has been relieved of his duties. The government is overthrown.”

Gen Niyombare’s “national salvation committee” comprises at least five other army and police generals.

He said in the radio broadcast that the mission of the body was the “restoration of national unity… and the resumption of the electoral process in a peaceful and fair environment”.

The unrest began on 26 April and has led to the deaths of more than 20 people.

Tens of thousands of Burundians have fled to neighbouring states in recent weeks.


Souce: BBC


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