New clashes in Burundi kill at least 4 protesters
Fresh clashes in Burundi over the president’s controversial bid to run for a third consecutive time have left at least four people dead, journalists and the Red Cross have confirmed.
Three bodies were seen on the streets of the Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, on Thursday, according to journalists covering anti-government demonstrations there.
The Red Cross also said that one protester died after being hit by a grenade during clashes among the police, the protesters and pro-government militia known as Imbonerakure.
The protests in Burundi began in late April over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to to seek a third term in office. The deaths on Thursday bring to 18 the number of those killed in anti-government clashes.
A protester lies dead on the ground after being shot in the head by police during clashes with protesters on the border between Cibitoke and Kinama neighborhoods in Bujumbura on May 7, 2015. © AFP
The fresh protests began earlier in the week after Burundi’s constitutional court ruled that Nkurunziza has no problem to run for a third term. This came as a senior judge of the court reportedly fled Burundi after reports that he was pressured to endorse Nkurunziza’s candidacy.
Nkurunziza , a former rebel leader who has ruled Burundi since 2005, was expected to hand his nomination documents to Burundi’s electoral commission later on Thursday.
The unrest is the worst to hit Burundi since the small nation in Africa’s Great Lakes region emerged from a brutal 12-year civil war in 2005. More than 20,000 people have been displaced in the wake of the violence, according to the United Nations.
Some foreign ministers of the east African countries were in Burundi Thursday to seek a solution to the deadly violence. However, the African Union warned that it would be impossible to hold elections under the current chaotic circumstances.
“The environment is not conducive for an election. You can’t be going into a country meeting refugees leaving, and saying ‘we are going to observe the elections’,” AU Commission chief, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said, adding, “As things stand, I don’t even see how elections can take place under these conditions.”
East African leaders are set to hold and emergency summit in Tanzania on May 13 to discuss the unrest in Burundi.
Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza
The protesters say Nkurunziza’s intention to seek a third term is viewed as a clear violation of the constitution and the Arusha peace agreement, which marked an end to the civil war. The two documents limit the president’s stay in office to two five-year terms.
Nkurunziza and his supporters argue that he can still run for president as his rise to power after Burundi’s 12-year civil war in 2005 did not come through direct vote.