Thursday, 7 May 2015

#AU African Union Warns #Burundi Amid Renewed Clashes

Police have opened fire on protesters in Burundi's capital, Bujumbura, leaving at least one dead and several others injured. The renewed clashes come a day after the president announced he would not seek a fourth term.

"The report we got this morning was that, so far, we have got nine people wounded and one person killed," Burundi Red Cross spokesman Alexis Manirakiza told Reuters news agency. He described the victims as civilians.

Military personnel fired warning shots into the air to disperse protesters, who were seen chasing down members of the ruling party's Imbonerakure militia. One pro-government militia member narrowly escaped the crowd before the military intervened, AFP news agency reported.

The clashes came a day after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would not run for a fourth term if re-elected in June.

Violent protests were triggered in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would be running for a third term in office. Burundian authorities shut down independent radio stations and denied access to social media platforms in an alleged bid to quell violence.

Two-term limit?

Critics lambasted the president's decision to run despite the country's constitution limiting the presidency to two terms.

Nkurunziza's supporters say that running for a third term is in line with the constitution since he was elected by lawmakers and not the people in 2005.

However, Burundi's former president, Domitien Ndayizeye, disagreed with Nkurunziza's supporters. He told DW that the two-term limit was set during the Arusha peace deal, which served as a reference point for the country's constitution. The Arusha accords were instrumental in ending civil conflict which lasted more than ten years.

AU warning

The African Union (AU) issued Burundi a warning that its environment is not conducive to elections scheduled for June.

"You can't be going into a country meeting refugees leaving, and saying 'we are going to observe the elections,'" Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission, told Chinese broadcaster CCTV.

"As things stand I don't even see how elections can take place under these conditions."

More than 30,000 Burundians have fled the country to nearby Rwanda and in fear of political violence. At least eight people have been killed since the protests began in April.

ls/kms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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