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African press review 14 May 2015

Text by: William Niba
3 min

Burundi faces the worst as an army general announces the toppling of President Nkurunziza in a coup. An East African leaders summit in Tanzania is called off and Nkurunziza is stranded in Dar es Salaam after closure of Burundi's borders. The UN Security Council will meet at France's request to discuss the crisis as thousands flee the violence into neighbouring countries. 

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Nigeria'sPunch newspaper reports that intensive infighting has broken out between government troops backing President Pierre Nkurunziza and soldiers loyal to Major General Godefroid Niyombaré in the early hours of Thursday as the two sides continued exchange of fire over control of the capital, Bujumbura.

More than 20 protesters have been killed and more than 50,000 people have fled to neighbouring nations since late April, when Burundi’s ruling party nominated Nkurunziza to stand for elections scheduled on 26 June.

This is the latest twist to weeks of bloody unrest in the Great Lakes country sparked by Nkurunziza’s attempt to stand for a third term of office despite being barred by the country’s constitution.

In Uganda the Daily Monitor, which also announced the coup, pointed out that the Burundian presidency dismissed the news of the coup d’état, calling it a mutiny.

The Kampala paper however reported that civilians took to the streets of Bujumbura in celebration, and could be seen running alongside armoured vehicles and soldiers.

Nkurunziza was in Tanzania attending an emergency summit on the crisis when the coup announcement reached him. Press reports say he tried to fly home on Wednesday but changed his mind after learning about the closure of the country’s borders.

News of Rwanda says Major General Godefroid Niyombaré was previously the country’s spy chief until February when he was suspended from duty by President Nkurunziza. The Rwandan newspaper quotes General Niyombaré as saying in a statement broadcast on national radio and television that President Nkurunziza was dismissed from office because of his arrogance and defiance of the international community which advised him to respect the constitution and Arusha peace agreement.

In South Africa, Mail and Guardian underlines a rather confusing paragraph in the final summit communiqué issued at the end of the five-nation summit condemning the coup.
The East African leaders noted that the current conditions in Burundi are not conducive for elections adding that they were calling on the country’s authorities to postpone the elections for a period not beyond the mandate of the current government.

Mail and Guardian says that while the EAC summit called for elections “in respect of the constitution, the electoral law and the spirit of the Arusha peace agreement”, it wasn’t clear where it stood on Nkurunziza’s plans to violate the key provision of the Arusha accords that ended the brutal 13-year civil war that ended in 2006.

In Kenya Daily Nation says the UN Security Council has scheduled urgent consultations on Burundi at France’s request this Thursday in the wake of the announcement of the coup.

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