Shots fired as Burundi protesters clash with cops

Bujumbura - Burundian security forces fired shots and tear gas in battles with protesters on Wednesday, the latest violence in weeks of anti-government demonstrations, as the presidency delayed elections by a week.

In the capital Bujumbura, hundreds defied government orders to stop protests, marching through the streets singing and demanding President Pierre Nkurunziza end his bid for a third term in power.

One week on since a failed coup led by a top general - which saw soldiers battling each other on the streets - police were seen returning to try to quash protests.

In recent days, soldiers were mainly deployed, viewed by many protesters as being more neutral than the much more feared police.

At least 20 people died in weeks of street battles with security forces before demonstrations ended during the coup attempt, but protests resumed Monday.

Legislative elections had been due on May 26, but were pushed back a week to June 2 following "a proposal from the electoral commission to respond to a request from opposition parties, and finally to answer calls of the region and the international community", presidential official Willy Nyamitwe told AFP.

No decision has been made as to whether a presidential poll set for June 26 would also be delayed. "Wait and see," Nyamitwe said.

Police return

The European Union joined the African Union on Tuesday in calling for a delay to the elections, while South Africa's President Jacob Zuma said they should be "postponed indefinitely" after a meeting of Africa's Great Lakes bloc of nations.

Opposition and rights groups say that Nkurunziza's bid for a third five-year term in power is against the constitution and the terms of the peace deal that brought an end to the country's 13-year civil war in 2006.

But Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader and born-again Christian who believes he has divine backing to lead the country, argues his first term in power did not count as he was elected by parliament, not directly by the people.

In the flashpoint Nyakabiga district, which has seen sone of the largest and most violent demonstrations since protests began on April 26, a small group of soldiers fired into the air to break up the crowd.

But protesters continued their march soon after, and the troops pulled back.

In other areas, police were deployed.

"The army has guns and they cannot fire on the people... so we brought the police because they have tear gas, and are equipped for this kind of mission," one policeman told AFP.

Nkurunziza has been accused by rights groups of launching a campaign of repression against opponents and trying to silence independent media since coup leaders admitted defeat on Friday after fierce fighting with loyalist troops.

But the presidency dismissed such claims Tuesday, saying it would never carry out "revenge" raids and promised fair trials for those arrested.

More than 100 000 people have fled to neighbouring nations to escape political violence, according to the United Nations.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What are your thoughts on the possibility of having permanent Stage 2 or 3 load shedding?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
I'll take that over constant schedule changes
13% - 1037 votes
Why are we normalising Eskom’s mess?
72% - 5737 votes
I've already found alternative ways of powering my home/business
15% - 1204 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.42
-0.1%
Rand - Pound
21.47
+0.1%
Rand - Euro
18.94
-0.3%
Rand - Aus dollar
12.30
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.3%
Platinum
1,013.88
+1.3%
Palladium
1,651.19
+0.9%
Gold
1,929.71
+0.3%
Silver
23.73
+0.5%
Brent Crude
84.90
-2.1%
Top 40
73,431
-1.2%
All Share
79,477
-1.1%
Resource 10
75,833
-2.8%
Industrial 25
102,289
-0.4%
Financial 15
16,145
-1.1%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE