Protesters in Burundi launched fresh demonstrations on Monday against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, less than a week after a coup attempt failed to oust him and despite a government ban on new protests.
Small groups of protesters defying the government ban gathered in several parts of Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, early on Monday and their numbers have been growing steadily throughout the morning, said FRANCE 24’s Duncan Woodside.
Reporting from the Nyakabiga neighbourhood in the heart of the capital, Woodside said a group of around 150 people had gathered near him.
“They’re saying, ‘Democracy is not about killing people.’ They’re blowing whistles and the army, for now, appears to be standing off.”
Gunfire was heard in other parts of the city, Woodside said, amid reports that the army had fired live ammunition in the air to try to stop protesters from taking to the streets.
“It seems that when journalists are visible, the authorities, the security forces, tend to be more cautious,” Woodside said.
The landlocked East African nation has been plunged into crisis since Nkurunziza pushed for a third term in office, a move his opponents say breaches both constitutional term limits and a 2005 peace agreement that ended Burundi’s ethnically driven civil war.
An uneasy calm had settled in the capital following Nkurunziza’s return to Burundi last week from neighbouring Tanzania, after forces loyal to the president put down a coup attempt launched by a former intelligence chief, Major General Godefroid Niyombare.
Monday’s protests came a day after Bujumbura Mayor Juma Saidi, speaking on state television, warned that “demonstrators will be considered as part of the coup, and security forces have been ordered to treat them as such”.
At least 20 people have died in street battles with security forces in the weeks since Nkurunziza announced he would be running for a third term late last month.