Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza will continue his bid for a third term in power, a spokesman said on Tuesday (Apr 28) dismissing calls by protesters who have clashed with police for three days.
At least five people have died since clashes broke out Sunday after the ruling CNDD-FDD party, which has been accused of intimidating opponents, designated Nkurunziza its candidate in for presidential elections due to be held in the central African nation on June 26.
“We won’t back down, that is out of the question,” presidential communications chief Willy Nyamitwe told AFP, blaming demonstrators for the violence and accusing some of them of carrying guns. “This path of violence they have chosen, we recall the darkest years of our history,” he said.
The government has banned all protests and deployed large numbers of police and troops onto the streets, firing live ammunition, tear gas and water cannons, with hundreds of stone-throwing protesters arrested.
Some of the protesters killed were shot at close range, while the police said at least 37 officers have been wounded.
Police reinforcements boosted the numbers of security forces seen on the streets on Tuesday, but protesters remained defiant – although most were contained in side streets, and were blocked from the capital’s centre.
Police chief Andre Ndayambaje appealed for people not to turn “protests into a rebellion.”
But senior opposition leader Charles Nditije said protests would continue until Nkurunziza agreed not to run. “He will have no other choice than to give it up because we are determined to go all the way,” he told AFP.
“It will continue,” said Jonathan, a 26-year old unemployed protester, saying that the problem is not that Nkurunziza had been in power for too long but that “he goes against the law.”