East African leaders will meet on Sunday at a special summit to discuss the crisis in Burundi, where police and protesters continue to clash on the streets of the capital and the opposition has boycotted peace talks.

A Reuters witness saw police fire in the direction of protesters and gunfire was heard in several parts of Bujumbura early on Tuesday, where many roads are blocked and businesses closed after a month of sometimes lethal protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in office.

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Elements in the military attempted a coup on May 13 while Nkurunziza was out of the country at the last East African Community (EAC) summit aimed at ending the conflict. The putsch failed but protests have rumbled on.

The EAC said in a tweet late on Monday that another summit would be held on Sunday, with ministers holding talks on Saturday. Nkurunziza’s office said it was unclear if the president would travel to the summit, in Dar es Salaam.

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“It’s too soon to know, but Burundi will be represented, that is for sure,” said presidential spokesman Gervais Abayeho.

The protests, which started on April 26, are part of the biggest political crisis since an ethnically-charged civil war ended in 2005. Many people fear the violence, if left unchecked, could lead to renewed ethnic bloodletting between the Hutu and Tutsi communities.

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Rights groups say at least 20 people have been killed in clashes between the police and protesters who say Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term violates the constitution. The president’s supporters disagree, and say a constitutional court ruling allows him to run.

The opposition boycotted talks after one of its leaders was murdered on Saturday.

 


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