The military coup staged by three senior army officers in Burundi has reportedly failed. Fierce fighting broke out in the capital Bujumbura early on Thursday following the announcement by coup leader General Godefroid Niyombare that President Nkurunzia and his cabinet had been ousted. According to his spokesman, President Nkurunzia, who had been attending a summit in Tanzania regarding the current security situation in Burundi, has returned to the country and remains in power.
Three leading officials behind the coup were arrested on Friday, however General Niyombare remains on the run. Escaping from Bujumbara, Niyombare admitted failure to a local news agency, adding “I hope they won’t kill us.” Thursday’s attempted coup was met by heavily armed opposition from the military and police loyal to the President. Five soldiers were reportedly killed during the fighting.
The violent protests and conflict on the streets of Bujumbura, suffered since the announcement of President Nkurunzia’s intention to run for a third presidential term, threatens an already fragile peace agreement signed in 2006. The accord signalled the end of a bloody 12 year civil war in which an estimated 300,000 Burundians lost their lives. President Nkurunzia’s decision was seen by some citizens and international observers as unconstitutional. Despite fears of further violence throughout the country, Nkurunzia says that the election – scheduled for this month – will go ahead as planned.
Our local partners INAMA remain extremely concerned that the violence witnessed in the capital will spread to rural areas in the run-up to the elections due to take place this summer. Their reporting of outbreaks of conflict to their network of peacebuilders throughout the country is even more vital amid a nationwide media blackout caused by the fighting in Bujumbura. INAMA are able to warn remote communities about outbreaks of violence in their region, enabling local peacebuilders to defuse the situation and safeguard the local population.