Burundi leader’s forces in control!

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The BBC’s Maud Jullien says there is an “uneasy calm” in Bujumbura
Soldiers loyal to Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza say they are now in control of key locations in the capital, a day after an attempted coup.

There were fierce clashes in Bujumbura, particularly at the state radio office, but they are now said to have subsided. Five soldiers are reported killed.

Mr Nkurunziza had been in Tanzania when the coup began on Wednesday and his whereabouts remain unconfirmed.

There has been no new statement from the general who announced the coup.

Protests began in Burundi on 26 April when Mr Nkurunziza said he was seeking a third term, a move his opponents said was unconstitutional.

The coup was launched by Maj Gen Godefroid Niyombare, a former ally of the president, on Wednesday after Mr Nkurunziza travelled to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city, to attend a summit on the crisis.

Thursday’s events as they unfolded

What’s behind the coup bid?

Reports late on Wednesday said the president had tried to fly back to Burundi but was forced to return to Tanzania as he could not land.

However, Burundian presidential spokesman Willy Nyamitwe confirmed to the BBC on Thursday that the president had left Tanzania and was “safe and sound”.

However, he said that for security reasons he could not confirm or deny whether Mr Nkurunziza was in Burundi.

Mr Nyamitwe told Radio France Internationale: “The loyalist army is present, his advisers are present and the government is present. The country, then, continues to function.”

‘Fighting has stopped’

The BBC’s Ruth Nesoba in Bujumbura says the streets now do appear to be calmer.

A senior military source told BBC Afrique that loyalist troops were in control of the presidential palace, the radio station, the airport and the centre of Bujumbura.

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.

Both army chief of staff Gen Prime Niyongabo and President Nkurunziza said the coup attempt had been halted.

However, coup spokesman Venon Ndabaneze insisted insurgent troops were in control of “virtually the entire city”.

Earlier, a general supporting the coup had announced a major offensive to take the loyalist-held state radio building.

The RTBN radio station had earlier broadcast a message from Mr Nkurunziza condemning the coup.

“I thank soldiers who are putting things in order, and I forgive any soldier who decides to surrender,” he said.

Residents of Bujumbura carry a cross to show impartiality
At the scene: Ruth Nesoba in Bujumbura

It is quiet in the streets in the centre of Bujumbura at the moment and I can see that some people have ventured out.

In the morning we woke to the news that the loyalists had launched an attack on private radio stations, which were taken off air, and then there was a struggle between rival factions in the army over control of the national broadcaster. The TV is not on air, but radio is playing Kirundi music. The broadcasts have been on and off.

There is no confirmation about the whereabouts of Gen Niyombare and we have not heard from him since his announcement of the coup on private radio on Wednesday.

The station briefly stopped broadcasting during the attack.

But station director Jerome Nzokirantevye was soon back on air, saying: “Now the fighting has stopped we can resume. It is still loyalist soldiers who are in control,”

Control of the national broadcaster is key because it is the only outlet still broadcasting outside the capital, the BBC’s Maud Jullien reports.

The two private radio stations have been shut down. The most popular – Radio Publique Africaine – was burnt down overnight after broadcasting the coup announcement.

Thousands of people had taken to the streets on Wednesday to celebrate the announcement of the coup, marching on the centre of Bujumbura alongside soldiers.

The signs of heavy fighting are seen over Bujumbura

Many of the major roads are deserted, with a few patrolling police

Mr Nkurunziza has ruled out delaying next month’s elections
Tens of thousands flee

The unrest began after the 51-year-old president said he would run for re-election in June.

Opponents said this contravened the constitution, which states a president can only be elected to two terms.

Mr Nkurunziza argued he was entitled to a third term because he was first appointed to the role by parliament in 2005, rather than elected.

Earlier this month, the country’s constitutional court upheld his interpretation.

More than 20 people have died and tens of thousands of Burundians have fled to neighbouring states since the unrest began.

Gen Niyombare delivers his radio address to the nation
Coup bid leader: Gen Godefroid Niyombare, 46

• Former rebel CNDD-FDD commander and ally of President Nkurunziza

• First ethnic Hutu army chief – a significant step in reconciliation efforts

• A negotiator in peace talks with last rebel group FNL

• Oversaw Burundi’s deployment to Somalia as part of African force

• Served as ambassador to Kenya

• Dismissed as intelligence chief in February three months after his appointment

• Dismissal came days after he recommended against the third-term bid

Are you in Burundi? Have you been affected by the unrest? Email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk with your experience.

If you would be happy to speak further to a BBC journalist, please include a contact telephone number.

Email your pictures to yourpics@bbc.co.uk, upload them here, tweet them to @BBC_HaveYourSay or text 61124. If you are outside the UK, send them to the international number +44 7624 800 100.

Or WhatsApp us on +44 7525 900971

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