1 dead in Burundi unrest; leader delays parliamentary vote
BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) — Burundi police fired live bullets, tear gas and tossed a grenade Wednesday to disperse hundreds of protesters angry over the president’s bid for a third term in office. One soldier died while trying to stop the police barrage, a captain said.
Amid the unrest, President Pierre Nkurunziza postponed the country’s parliamentary election from May 26 until June 5.
The slain soldier was part of a group of army troops trying to stop the police from firing at protesters who were throwing stones in the capital’s Nyakabinga neighborhood, Capt. Dismas Nduwamungu told The Associated Press. The soldier was hit in the chest and died and while another soldier was wounded in the leg, he said.
When the soldier died, police from the unit that fired on the protesters quickly drove away, he said. The incident is being investigated, said the presidential adviser for media, Willy Nyamitwe.
The army has remained largely neutral in the street battles between police and protesters.
Police shot bullets mostly in the air in Wednesday’s running battles. An AP reporter saw a police officer throw a grenade, which exploded at the protesters, but no casualties were reported. A protester who identified himself only as Ndayisaba was shot in the leg.
Protesters say Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in the June 26 presidential election is illegal because the constitution only allows for two, five-year terms. Nkurunziza maintains he can run for a third term because parliament — not the people — elected him for his first one.
The parliamentary elections were delayed in response to requests by the international community and many politicians in Burundi, Nkurunziza said on state radio. He added that only a small part of the capital was experiencing unrest while the rest of Burundi was peaceful.
“99.9 percent of the country’s citizens are leaving in peace and going on with their business. We are urging them (the protesters) to change,” he said.
Weeks of unrest in the capital boiled over last week when an army general announced a coup, which was crushed within 48 hours by army forces loyal to the president.
Jerome Delay and Andrew Njuguna contributed to this report.