An attempted coup in Burundi last night is being contested, with forces loyal to the country’s President Pierre Nkurunziza regaining control over crucial parts of the country’s capital, Bujumbura. Major General Godefroid Niyombare, Nkurunziza’s recently sacked intel chief, had announced the coup yesterday while the president was away at a conference in Tanzania. Though pro-government forces appear to have rolled back the coup, fighting is ongoing in Bujumbura, and the exact situation on the ground is opaque. The BBC:
Both the army’s chief of staff and President Nkurunziza said the coup attempt had been halted.
But this has been contradicted by the coup leaders, one of whom said they were in control of “virtually the entire city” of Bujumbura.
“The soldiers who are being deployed are on our side,” coup spokesman Venon Ndabaneze told the AFP news agency.
BBC correspondents say the streets seem to be mainly in the control of loyalist police, and the airport has reportedly reopened, which would appear to confirm reports it too is in loyalist hands.
The coup attempt came after unrest over Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term as President, which critics say is illegal, spilled over into violence. Up to 70,000 people have fled Burundi for neighboring countries, fearing a resumption of a brutal civil war that pitted Tutsis against Hutus from 1993 until 2005. A failed coup might only intensify migrant outflows in a time when a global refugee crisis is already unfolding.