Burundi: Military discussing whether to back coup, president’s whereabouts not clear

Baku, May 14, AZERTAC

Burundi's capital was quiet Wednesday night but it was not clear who was in charge after a tumultuous day in which thousands of people celebrated an attempted coup against President Pierre Nkurunziza, according to The Associated Press.

The military is divided between those supporting Nkurunziza and those backing the coup, said a senior military official who insisted on anonymity. The two sides of the military were holding negotiations Wednesday night to determine the way forward, he said.

The attempted coup took place while Nkurunziza was in neighbouring Tanzania for a summit on his country's troubles. An army general announced on a private radio station that the president had been relieved of his duties.

Police withdrew from the streets of Bujumbura, the capital, after the general's coup statement and thousands of people celebrated the apparent coup. People thronged Bujumbura's streets and applauded soldiers who rode by in tanks and trucks. Some of the troops smiled and one raised his rifle to acknowledge the cheering crowd.

But some officials remained loyal to Nkurunziza. His office said in the evening that the coup attempt was unsuccessful, posting a statement on the president's Twitter and Facebook accounts.

It was not clear where Nkurunziza was on Wednesday night. After leaving the Tanzanian summit, Nkurunziza did not return to Bujumbura and landed at Uganda's Entebbe airport, said a top Ugandan official. He could not say if Nkurunziza stayed in Uganda or if he returned to Tanzania.

Nkurunziza's bid for a third term as president sparked street protests in the capital in which 15 people have been killed.

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