Police open fire at protesters in Burundi

Police resumed using force against protesters opposing the president’s bid for a third term

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Burundian police fired guns and used teargas to disperse protesters early on Tuesday during demonstrations against current president Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in office, Reuters has reported.

“At least two police officers fired guns towards demonstrators during clashes in Butarere district,” one witness said while another saw protesters grab a policewoman and beat her up, claiming she fired at them, before letting her go.

“A woman was shot dead in Butarere, where there was heavy gunfire and a grenade thrown in another district killed two people” a protester told Reuters.

An AFP journalist at the scene also claimed to have seen two other people with gunshot wounds, one of them a boy of around 10 years old, hit in the arm.

Police forces officials denied to have opened fire at protesters.

Reuters reported that the total number of people killed will be at least 22 since demonstrations have started on April 26, based on unofficial statistics of activists, if today’s killings are confirmed.

"We want good leadership. We are suffering every day," one protester told without giving his name. "We don't want his third term. The policemen are killing people,” he added.

The east African nation has been hit by protests in opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza's candidacy of re-election for a third term, while Burundi's constitution stipulates that a president can only serve for two terms.

The constitution limits the presidency to two terms in office, but Nkurunziza's supporters say he can run again because his first term was picked by lawmakers and not by elections.

Despite the demonstrations against his third term bid, Burundi's Constitutional Court approved the candidacy of President Pierre Nkurunziza last Tuesday.

Since the streak of violence started before the elections, more than 50,000 people, mostly women and children, have fled to neighboring Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN refugee agency has said.

A summit will be held gathering East African Leaders in Tanzania’s capital on May 13, to discuss ways to contain the situation in Burundi.

The heads of state of Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi, which form the East African Community (EAC) common market, are expected to join the summit in Dar es Salaam, Reuters has reported.

"We have agreed to meet to discuss how to help our brothers and sisters in Burundi to hold successful elections and ensure that their nation is united, peaceful and secure without any unnecessary conflicts," Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said in a statement late on Saturday.

Concerning the rising violence in the past month in Burundi, the US envoy Samantha Power said “the government of Burundi has a windows of opportunity to bring the violence to a halt” stating that “the international community is urging President Pierre Nkurunziza to put his people ahead of his personal desire to seek re-election,” AP has reported.

TRTWorld and agencies