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Celebrations in Burundi as army general attempts coup against president

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By Seamus Kearney
Celebrations in Burundi as army general attempts coup against president

People in Burundi are out on the streets celebrating the news an army general has attempted to carry out a coup against the country’s leader.

Regarding President Nkurunziza's arrogance and defiance of the international community ... he and his government are dismissed

President Pierre Nkurunziza is out of the country, attending a summit of East African leaders in Tanzania.

Demonstrations had been taking place for weeks over the president’s plans to run for a third five-year term.

“President Pierre Nkurunziza has been relieved of his duties, the government has been dissolved,” said the leader of the attempted coup, Major General Godefroid Niyombare.

“Permanent secretaries will have minimal duties in their ministries. We demand that all regional commanders of the military, regional commissioners and all governors work hand in hand with us to reinforce the security for all the citizens of Burundi.”

One man in the capital said: “I am very happy to see that we have managed to remove the president, who tried to change the constitution.

“After all the conflicts in the past, he wanted a third mandate so that he could finish us off. But thanks to the people’s revolution, we have won, we won’t give up.”

It is still not known if the president will attempt to return to Burundi.

There are conflicting reports about whether the general has the support of all soldiers, but it’s reported they entered the main state broadcaster.

Nkurunziza angered his local opponents and western countries when he confirmed this week he would seek a third term.

A court earlier said he had the right to, even though the constitution and a peace accord allow only two presidential terms.

Army general Niyombare, a former ambassador to Kenya, says he is now working on the formation of a transitional government ahead of new elections.

He spoke to reporters at a military barracks in Bujumbura.

“Regarding President Nkurunziza’s arrogance and defiance of the international community, which advised him to respect the constitution and Arusha peace agreement, the committee for the establishment of the national concord decide: President Nkurunziza is dismissed, his government is dismissed too,” he said.

Niyombare was surrounded by several other senior army and police figures, including a former defence minister.