May 15, 2015
Three leaders of a failed coup against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza have been arrested, his spokesman says.
However coup leader Gen Godefroid Niyombare is “still on the run”. He told the AFP news agency that he and his followers were going to surrender, adding: “I hope they won’t kill us.”
The president says he has returned to Burundi after being stuck in Tanzania.
More than 105,000 people have fled the country since the unrest began last month, the UN says.
Mr Nkurunziza, who was in Tanzania when the coup attempt against his bid to seek a third term was launched, is expected to make a national address on Friday.
Renegade general and former defence minister Gen Cyrille Ndayirukiye was one of the three coup leaders arrested on Friday, Mr Nkurunziza’s spokesman, Gervais Abayeho, told the BBC World Service.
“If they are found to be among the coup leaders they will have to face justice,” Mr Abayeho said, adding that it was only a small section of the army who had rebelled and denying a division in the army.
Security Minister Gabriel Nizigama told the BBC that two police commissioners and about a dozen other police officers had also been arrested after a brief exchange of fire at one of the generals’ houses where they were hiding.
Mr Nizigama denied reports that the detainees had been beaten during their arrest, saying they were arrested under conditions befitting normal human rights.
Coup leaders and their aides should tell the nation that the coup has failed and ask the population for forgiveness for their actions, he added.
Meanwhile, civil society groups in Burundi are calling on people to return to the streets after weeks of protests against Mr Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term in office.
“Our movement had nothing to do with the attempted coup or the failed coup,” Gordien Niyungeko, of rights organisation Focode, told Reuters news agency.
Many view his bid as an unconstitutional move. Tens of thousands of people have fled the country.
Thousands celebrated on the streets of the capital after Gen Niyombare announced the takeover on national radio on Wednesday, while President Nkurunziza was at a summit in Tanzania.
The streets of Bujumbura were reported to be calm on Friday morning.
It comes after a day of heavy fighting for control of the national state TV and radio stations, which the Burundi military say they now control. Five soldiers were killed.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, released new figures on Friday of the number of refugees crossing Burundi’s neighbouring countries:
- Tanzania: 70,187
- Rwanda: 26,300
- Democratic Republic of Congo: 9,183