Anti-government protesters return to Burundi′s streets after truce ends | News | DW | 04.05.2015
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Anti-government protesters return to Burundi's streets after truce ends

Protesters have returned to the streets of Burundi after a two-day truce ended. They are demanding the current president abandon his bid for a third term in office.

Demonstrators gathered in the streets of Burundi's capital, Bujumbura, on Monday, at the start of a second week of protests over President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to stand for a third term.

Some participants managed to break through police barricades and move into the center of the city, but were quickly dispersed. There were several scuffles with police, and teargas and water cannon were deployed.

Protesters have also accused authorities of using live rounds of ammunition, which police deny.

Groups of Burundians gathered in the suburb of Kinindo, chanting "Please, Nkurunziza, give up the third term so that peace returns in the country."

Witnesses also reported protests were staged in Nyakabiga and Musaga.

The army has been sent in in an effort to restore calm in the central African nation, one of the poorest countries in the world.

On Friday had protesters agreed to a two-day break in the demonstrations, but warned they would resume their action if the president did not back down.

Power play

On April 25 Burundi's ruling CNDD-FDD party announced President Nkurunziza would be their candidate in June's presidential elections, sparking the protest action.

He has been in power since 2005, when he took over power from his father.

At least six people have died since the unrest began, including at least two policemen and one soldier. This is disputed by civil society groups, who say the death toll is at least nine. Around 600 arrests have also been made.

The government blamed a grenade attack on Saturday on the protests, calling demonstrators "enemies of the state."

The United States, several European countries and many regional nations have also urged Nkurunziza to call off his planned campaign, worrying he is risking a hard-fought peace deal which ended the civil war and has kept the country relatively stable for the past 10 years.

Clauses in this deal and in Burundi's constitution state that the president can only be in power for up to two five-year terms. Nkurunziza's supporters argue that his first term in office doesn't count because he was elected by lawmakers, and not a popular vote.

On Saturday Defense Minister Major General Pontien Gaciyubwenge vowed the army would not be used to violate the peace deal or the constitution, but would remain neutral.

The United Nations reported that thousands of people have already fled to neighboring Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to escape the violence.

Social media and independent broadcasters have also been blocked or shut down.

an/kms (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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