The Economist | Mind The Coup | The army tries to wrest power from a controversial president

Posted May 13, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Burundi Crisis ~ 3,021 views



COUPS remain depressingly common in Africa, even as the continent becomes ever more democratic—or perhaps because of that on-balance-welcome trend. Generals in Burkina Faso last year chased away a president who tried to cling to power in defiance of term limits.

On May 13th it was Burundi’s turn. An army general, Godefroid Niyombare, declared the government overthrown to the sound of gunshots in the street of Bujumbura, the capital.

The coup follows weeks of public protests against a move by the president, Pierre Nkurunziza, to seek a third term in violation of the constitution. He was out of the country at the time of the coup, and has consulted counterparts in east Africa on how to resolve the crisis. Western governments had threatened to cut off aid if he stayed on.

Citing the president’s intransigence—and surrounded by other senior army and police officers, including a former defence minister—General Niyombare said, “President Nkurunziza is dismissed, his government is dismissed too.” Groups of protesters on the streets, who had numbered up to 50,000 in recent days, cheered on the plotters.

But it is unknown how much support the general’s men have in the armed forces and the country at large. Troops loyal to the president are said to have fought back in the defence of strategic buildings in the capital. The coup may not succeed. The president’s aides called it “a joke”, though it is clearly more than that.

At the very least the president’s plan to stand in elections in two weeks has been thwarted. And it looks as though armed men are likely to be in charge for a while. General Niyombare claimed to be forming an interim government within hours of the first coup rumours. But just like the generals in Burkina Faso, he might come to enjoy power and find himself as reluctant to give it up as the elected president.

Source — The Economist

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