Burundi tense amid reports of coup

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Twitter post from president’s account says overthrow bid by top general has “failed” and “situation is under control”.

The situation in the African country of Burundi is tense amid conflicting reports of a coup against the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Soldiers have stationed themselves outside the state broadcaster in the centre of the capital, Bujumbura.

Wednesday’s developments came after Reuters news agency reported, citing an army officer, that Nkurunziza and his government had been dismissed.

Burundi’s presidency, in a message posted on Twitter, said an attempted coup had “failed”.

“The situation is under control, there is no coup in Burundi,” the message read.

Agathon Rwasa, a leading opposition figure, told Al Jazeera he supported the move by military officials to remove Nkurunziza.

“I think it’s right to rescue the people and the nation … Nkurunziza is relying on his militia to slaughter innocent people,” Rwasa said.

Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, reporting from Bujumbura, said that about 20 soldiers were deployed at the gate of the compound of the broadcaster.

“The road outside has been sealed off and journalists have been told to go inside,” he said, adding that state radio and TV were still broadcasting.

Webb also reported huge celebrations among protesters, and some gun fire, but it was not immediately clear if the shots were being directed at the demonstrators or were celebratory.

Our correspondent said that it appeared that the army did have control of the state broadcaster and state-owned buildings.

Dismissal

Major-General Godefroid Niyombare, who was fired by Nkurunziza as intelligence chief in February, reportedly announced the dismissal of the president at a military barracks.

He was surrounded by several other senior officers in the army and police, Reuters reported.

“Regarding President Nkurunziza’s arrogance and defiance of the international community which advised him to respect the constitution and Arusha peace agreement, the committee for the establishment of the national concord decide: President Nkurunziza is dismissed, his government is dismissed too,” Niyombare said.

Nkurunziza is currently in Tanzania where he was due to meet with leaders of the five-nation East African Community (EAC) – made up of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda as well as Burundi.

An adviser dismissed the news as “a joke”, Reuters reported.

Al Jazeera could not confirm the reports of Nkurunziza’s dismissal.

At least 19 people have died in Burundi since Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a third term in elections due next month, prompting weeks of angry demonstrations.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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