Burundi: Military general declares coup against President Nkurunziza

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A Burundi army general has said that a group of military officers have dismissed President Pierre Nkurunziza following unrest over his campaign to be re-elected for a third term.

Maj Gen Godefroid Niyombareh said that he did not recognise the legitimacy of Nkurunziza’s leadership as his bid for a third term in office had violated the constitution and announced the formation of a “national salvation committee” to run the country.

In a radio broadcast Niyombareh said that the mission of the committee, which includes at least five other heads of the military and police, planned to restore “national unity” and reintroduce a “peaceful and fair” electoral process.

It is currently unclear how much support the coup has amongst the population of Burundi, but demonstrators who had taken to the streets in recent days to protest against Nkurunziza reportedly began to cheer as they heard the news.

Nkurunziza is currently in Tanzania for a meeting to discuss the current crisis in his country with leaders from other African nations. He has not made an official statement on the coup, but the BBC reports that his aide has dismissed the action as a “joke”.

Soldiers, apparently loyal to Niyombareh, have stationed themselves outside the state broadcaster in the capital, Bujumbura.

The official Twitter account of the Presidency of Burundi has said that the coup failed, but it provides little information to support this claim.

More than a dozen people have died in the unrest over the last few weeks, and thousands of Burundians have fled the country to neighbouring states as the situation deteriorated.

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