Burundi President makes first public appearance after failed coup

Pierre Nkurunziza, Burundi President
Pierre Nkurunziza, Burundi President

The Burundi President, Pierre Nkurunziza, made his first public appearance on Sunday after a failed coup.

Nkurunziza met with ruling party officials in the Kamenge neighbourhood of the capital, Bujumbura, as part of the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy’s (CNDD-FDD) election campaign.

Local government polls are scheduled for May 26 in the small East African country, with presidential election set for June 26.

Former intelligence Chief, Godefroid Niyombare, on Wednesday attempted to seize power while the president was attending a regional summit in neighbouring Tanzania.

Mr. Niyombare, a Major General, had been sacked from his intelligence job by Mr. Nkurunziza earlier this year after criticising the president’s bid to seek a third term in office.

Mr. Nkurunziza’s candidacy sparked massive protests that have turned deadly in recent weeks, reportedly killing 20 people.

After the president returned to Burundi on Friday, new protests briefly flared up in the capital on Saturday, but were quickly dispersed.

Coup supporters and independent journalists critical of the government had reportedly gone into hiding, while the streets were being patrolled by soldiers.

Dozens of people were arrested, with 17 appearing before the High Court on Saturday.

Nearly 105,000 Burundians fled to neighbouring countries to escape the violence, according to the United Nations.

The US embassy in Burundi, meanwhile, said it was offering to evacuate its citizens to neighbouring Rwanda from Sunday.

(dpa/NAN)

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