Burundi Coup Bid: Some Coup Leaders Arrested

BBC World News Africa

Three renegade generals who launched a failed coup against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza have been arrested.

However coup leader Gen Godefroid Niyombare is “still on the run”, a presidential spokesman said.

Earlier, Gen Niyombare told the AFP news agency that he and his followers were going to surrender, adding: “I hope they won’t kill us”.

President Nkurunziza says he is now back in Burundi and expected to make a national address.

The coup attempt against his bid to seek a third term was launched while he was in Tanzania.

Five soldiers were killed in clashes in the capital, Bujumbura, on Thursday.

‘Held accountable’

Renegade general and former defence minister Gen Cyrille Ndayirukiye was one of the three coup leaders arrested on Friday, presidential spokesman Gervais Abayeho told the BBC World Service.

Maud Jullien reports from the capital, Bujumbura: ”At least five soldiers were killed in support of the attempted coup”

“If they are found to be among the coup leaders they will have to face justice,” Mr Abayeho said, adding that it was only a small section of the army who had rebelled and denying a division in the army.Mr Nkurunziza has ruled out delaying next month's electionsMr Nkurunziza has ruled out delaying next month’s elections

Gen Ndayirukiye earlier admitted that the attempt to overthrow the president had failed.

Thousands celebrated on the streets of the capital after Gen Niyombare announced the takeover on national radio on Wednesday, while President Nkurunziza was at a summit in Tanzania.

It followed weeks of protests against Mr Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term in office, an apparently unconstitutional move. Tens of thousands of people fled the country.

Protesters, who are against President Pierre Nkurunziza”s decision to run for a third term, gesture in front of a burning barricade in Bujumbura, Burundi 14 May 2015. Protesters took to the streets to celebrate news of the coup.

The signs of heavy fighting were seen over Bujumbura on Thursday

‘Overpowering Military Determination’

The Burundi military claim that they control the city’s airport and national state TV and radio stations. BBC reporters say the streets seem to be mainly in the control of loyalist police.

The military had said that they believed the number of troops supporting the coup has dwindled.

This appears to be in line with Gen Ndayirukiye’s comment that most in the military wanted to keep the current government in power.

“Personally, I recognise that our movement has failed,” he said, according to AFP.

“We were faced with an overpowering military determination to support the system in power,” he added.

Elections will continue

In a Twitter posting, President Nkurunziza said: “I thank the army and police for their patriotism. Above all I thank Burundians for their patience.”

The president’s spokesman, Gervais Abayeho, confirmed that the president was back in the country and that elections would continue as planned.

“The president is in a good mood, he doesn’t see any problem at all. He’s been elected by the people, he’s going to run again.”

‘Fighting has stopped’

Army chief of staff Gen Prime Niyongabo told the BBC’s Maud Jullien the number of soldiers backing the coup had fallen.

“On Wednesday evening we gave them the chance to rejoin the army to avoid a bloodbath. But they tried to attack the radio station today [Thursday] – the army repelled the attack.

“We are in control of all strategic points in the country. Burundi is a democratic nation. The army does not interfere in politics. We are obliged to follow the constitution.”

Tens of thousands flee

The unrest began after the 51-year-old president said he would run for re-election in June.

Opponents said this contravened the constitution, which states a president can only be elected to two terms.

Mr Nkurunziza argued he was entitled to a third term because he was first appointed to the role by parliament in 2005, rather than elected.

Earlier this month, the country’s constitutional court upheld his interpretation.

More than 20 people have died and tens of thousands of Burundians have fled to neighbouring states since the unrest began.

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