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Unrest as Gun Fire Resumes in Bujumbura; Nkurunziza Reported in Uganda

The situation remains tense in Burundi following the overthrow of President Pierre Nkurunziza by his army General.

Heavy gunfight has continued to rock the capital Bujumbura between soldiers loyal to the overthrown President and those for General Godefroid Niyombare who announced the coup on Wednesday afternoon.

Reports show that Pro-Nkurunziza troops are still in control of key institutions,  including the presidential palace and state broadcaster.

The President who was attending a crisis regional heads of state meeting in Dar es Salaam was reported flying back home hours after the coup was announced.

Immediately Gen Niyombere ordered closure of all border points and sieged the Bujumbura Airport,  switching off the lights.

Thousands of Burundians who were celebrating in the streets of Bujumbura also started marching to the airport on the General’s orders.

Gen Niyombare is a highly respected figure who was sacked from his intelligence post in February after he opposed Nkurunziza’s attempt to prolong his 10-year rule.

It is reported that Nkurunziza plane was then diverted back to Dar es Salaam, while other reports suggest that he landed at Entebbe Airport in Uganda yesterday night.

A privately owned Radio Bonesha reported that President Nkurunziza was headed to Uganda because he could not land in Burundi.

This morning a Burundian army Chief General Prime Niyongabo announced on radio that the coup was a failed attempt.

“The attempted coup by General Godefroid Niyombare has been stopped,” he said.

The broadcast said the presidency and presidential palace were under control of the president’s backers.

“The national defense force calls on the mutineers to give themselves up,” Niyongabo said on state radio.

But a spokesman for the anti-Nkurunziza camp, Burundi’s police commissioner Venon Ndabaneze, said the claim was false and his side was in control of facilities including Bujumbura’s international airport.

The two factions of the military were holding negotiations Wednesday night to determine the way forward, which seemed not to bear fruit.

Gun fire has been reported this morning around Radio-Television Nationale du Burundi in the Kabondo district of the capital, Bujumbura, at about 4 a.m. and could be heard about two hours later.

As the military coup unfolds, some of the biggest questions for Burundi’s future center on the lesser understood dynamics in the countryside.

For example, many of those fleeing abroad cited violent intimidation from the ruling party’s youth wing, the Imbonerakure.

Earlier, army UN chief Ban Ki-moon calls on all parties in Burundi to show calm and restraint, his spokesman says.

The East African Summit which was meeting in Tanzania also condemned the coup and appealed for rerun of constitutional rule.

The presidents are expected to meet again to chart the way forward.

 


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