Coup Declared Against Burundi President

Coup Declared Against Burundi PresidentCoup Declared Against Burundi President

A Burundi army general said on Wednesday President Pierre Nkurunziza has been “overthrown,” amid unrest over his bid to be re-elected for a third term.

Maj Gen Godefroid Niyombareh said a salvation committee had been set up but his level of support is unclear. Thousands protesting against the president in the capital, Bujumbura, were reported to be celebrating, BBC reported.

President Nkurunziza is currently in Tanzania. The presidency’s Twitter site said the coup attempt had failed. Nkurunziza has been meeting other East African leaders to discuss the crisis. His aide dismissed the coup claims as “a joke.”

In a series of Twitter postings, the Burundi presidency at first said the situation was under control and that there was no coup, then that the attempted coup had failed.

In a statement read to reporters in a military base, Niyombareh said he did not recognize the leadership because the president’s bid for a third term violated the constitution. Soldiers surrounded the offices of the national broadcaster in Bujumbura.

“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.” Niyombareh said in a radio broadcast.

“The masses vigorously and tenaciously reject President Nkurunziza’s third-term mandate ... the president has been relieved of his duties. The government is overthrown,” he added.

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.”