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Burundi issues order to end anti-government protests

Security forces have removed barricades across Burundi's capital after a government order to end protests. Widespread demonstrations were sparked after the country's president announced his bid for a third term.

Officials swept through areas of the capital city, including the neighborhoods of Cibitoke, Musaga and Nyakabiga, after an order was given to take down all barriers across Bujumbura within 48 hours.

Police and the military were met with little resistance when they moved in early on Sunday morning, although one man died from a gunshot wound.

Some witnesses said they had heard gunfire, and there were unconfirmed reports of injuries.

One of the protest movement's leaders said demonstrators were forced to back down from planned action when faced with armed authorities.

"The military came to tell us that the roads were to be cleared and we could not resist armed men with guns," he said.

Tentative truce

At least 18 people have died and more than 200 have been injured

in demonstrations

since President Pierre Nkurunziza declared his intention to stand for a third term in office on April 25.

Despite the central African nation's constitution forbidding leaders from being in power for more than two terms, Burundi's constitutional court

approved Nkurunziza's bid to stand

in June's elections.

The court's vice president, who fled the country ahead of the ruling, said the government pressured them to decide in their favor.

The president had argued as he was first elected by parliament and not a popular vote, he was eligible to run again.

He was the first of eight candidates to

register on Friday

for the upcoming vote.

The US and the African Union have called on Nkurunziza to withdraw his bid, worried it might compromise the hard-won Arusha peace accord that ended a brutal civil war.

On Saturday, the National Security Council called for an "immediate and unconditional" end to the protests, and demanded security forces dismantle all barricades across the country.

Protesters had vowed to defy the order and return to the streets, calling the directive a "declaration of war."

According to the UN refugee agency, more than 50,000 citizens have fled across the border to other countries, worried about potential violence.

East African leaders are due to hold a conference in Tanzania on May 13 to discuss Burundi's political situation, and on how to hold peaceful and democratic elections.

an/cmk (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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