Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Burundi tells diplomats to stay neutral over unrest

29 April 2015, 07:46

Bujumbura - Burundi's government told diplomats on Tuesday to stay neutral and not side with protesters who accuse President Pierre Nkurunziza of violating the constitution by announcing he will seek a third term in office.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets for a third straight day and were confronted by police firing teargas and shots in the air, as Burundi faced its worst political crisis since the end of an ethnically fuelled civil war in 2005.

The United States, other Western nations and regional African countries had pushed Nkurunziza, 51, not to seek a third term. Washington said it was disappointed he was doing so and warned it would take steps against those behind any violence.

"In such a situation, the Burundi government asks you to observe diplomatic neutrality," the first deputy president, Prosper Bazombanza, told a meeting with ambassadors from the United States, Europe and African nations to discuss the crisis.

Bazombanza said the protesters wanted to disrupt a series of elections which start in May with local council and parliamentary polls, followed by a presidential vote on June 26.

Also Read: Protests in Burundi continue against president, 5 dead

The unrest in the east African country raises tensions in a region with a history of ethnic conflict, and has driven almost 25 000 Burundians across the border for fear of ethnic killings.

Other presidents in the region are also nearing the end of their final terms, as defined by their constitutions. The leader of Burkina Faso in west Africa was overthrown last year after trying to change the basic law to extend his 27-year rule.

Foreign Minister Laurent Kavakure said some protest organisers were winning "a lot of sympathy" from some of Burundi's partners, although he did not name them.

"The protests are illegal," the minister told the ambassadors. "They are becoming an insurrection movement."

Unrest has spread into new parts of the capital Bujumbura, and small protests were reported by local media in the second biggest city, Gitega.

Crowds gathered from early morning in a south Bujumbura suburb mostly inhabited by members of Burundi's ethnic Tutsi minority, waving placards and chanting slogans accusing the president of breaking the constitution. Some burned tyres.

Opponents of the president, who led one of the militias of the ethnic Hutu majority in the civil war, say the peace deal and the constitution limit him to two five-year terms.

Supporters of Nkurunziza, whose power base is in the countryside, say his first term does not count because he was picked by lawmakers, not elected.

Also Read:Protests in Burundi continue against president, 5 dead

One protester told Reuters two people suffered gunshot wounds in the northern Cibitoke suburb, though there was no immediate confirmation from the police.

Two protesters have been killed and more than 250 people arrested since protests erupted on Sunday, Burundi's police chief André Ndayambaje said earlier. Activists say at least five protesters have died.

The United Nations said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has sent his special envoy for the Great Lakes region to Burundi for talks with Nkurunziza and the opposition. Ban called for the security services to show restraint.

Opposition leader and presidential hopeful Agathon Rwasa told a news conference: "I am calling upon President Nkurunziza to abandon seeking another third term to prevent the country from massive violence and killings."

Burundi's civil war pitted the army, then dominated by the Tutsi minority, against rebel groups mostly made up of majority Hutus. The army now includes both ethnic groups.

Authorities say about 21 000 people have fled from Burundi to Rwanda, victim of a genocide in 1994 in which more than 800 000 mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. Almost 4 000 people have fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

- Reuters


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...