Ongoing political unrest following Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza’s announcement that he will seek a third term precipitated a coup today in the nation’s capital city of Bujumbura. Since the public protests began on April 26th, more than 20 people have died and reportedly tens of thousands have left the country seeking refuge abroad.

Conflicting reports issued today concerning police presence in Bujumbura. Although some media sources contended crowds celebrated the announcement of a coup, pictures surfaced online depicting scenes of mob violence.

The President is currently in Tanzania meeting with several East African leaders. One of his aide’s characterized the discussion of a coup as “a joke.”

Meanwhile, uniformed personnel surrounded a media outlet in the capital and a general broadcast a statement over the radio informing the people of Burundi “the government is overthrown.” Major General Godefroid Niyombarehexplained that several military and police generals had created a “national salvation committee” which would pursue a mission of “restoration of national unity.” He promised “resumption of the electoral process in a peaceful and fair environment.”

In a statement read in his name to reporters at a media base, the General indicated that the President had violated the Burundi constitution by seeking a third term in office.

Large crowds of demonstrators apparently remained on the streets of the capital city of Bujumbura again today.

Thanks to Bruce Levenson for showing me this.

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