According to Vanguard news, the government officials and politicians in Burundi have confirmed that protesters have again rejected President Pierre Nkurunziza, but have called for calm in the country. They said another round of street clashes and gunfire erupted again on Thursday in Bujumbura. Meanwhile, Nkurunziza in a state broadcast on Wednesday night, stressed the need for national unity, saying that Burundi’s bloody past, including a civil war that only ended in 2005 after the death of 300,000 people, could not be ignored.
He said “no Burundian wants to revive the tension of ethnic division or any other nature. “The blood that was spilt in the past has taught us a lesson,’’ Nkurunziza said. But government officials in Bujumbura said soldiers and police had continued to fire tear gas and warning shots in the air, as they faced off against scores of young men, throwing rocks and burning makeshift barricades in the roads.
An eye witness, a Reuters photographer, said one man was shot in the leg by police, while another man hit in the head by a bullet were almost certain to die but the protesters dismissed his words as a charade. A 42-year old man, Jean-Claude Gakiza, said Burundians do not consider Nkurunziza’s speech as a speech for the nation. He said “someone who violates the constitution is against Burundians.
“All we want now is that he gives up his third term bid.’’ The residents of Musaga said the president’s broadcast led to Thursday’s violence, which followed a night of heavy gunfire in the restive neighbourhood of Musaga. The residents spoke of several hours of running battles between police and gangs of youths. “There were shootings through the night. Tension was very high,’’ they said.
However, Pascal Nyabenda, the Chairman of the ruling CNDD-FDD party, dismissed the protesters as paid thugs. He said “those are youths who are paid, it’s like a job.’’ An opposition leader said on condition of anonymity that there were more than 110,000 refugees in neighbouring Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania. He said cholera outbreak at a refugee camp sheltering thousands of Burundian refugees in northwest Tanzania killed 33 people.
He added that regional leaders had called for calm and restraint on all sides, but to little effect. South Africa, he noted, which played a central role in brokering the 2005 peace, had also called for indefinite postponement of the June 26 presidential election. He added that so far, Nkurunziza’s only concession had been to push next week’s local and parliamentary elections to June 5.
Nkurunziza, the 51-year-old former sports lecturer, argued that his ambition did not break the two-term limit in the constitution. He said that his first term in which he was appointed by parliament rather than directly elected, does not count.