Several thousand people protested in the streets of Burundi’s capital Bujumbura on Saturday against United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the facilitator in the inter-Burundian crisis William Mkapa.
“Guterres and Mkapa want to establish a transitional government. They want to bring back the coup plotters but we won’t agree to this,” protesters said.
A week ago, Guterres publicly expressed deep concern about Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s plans to change the constitution to allow him to run for a fourth term in office. He said such a manoeuvre risked deepening the crisis in the impoverished country.
“An attempt by the president to seek a fourth term in office under the current circumstances would risk intensifying the crisis,” Guterres said in a report sent to the UN Security Council. “This also risks undermining collective efforts to find a sustainable solution [to the current crisis],” he said.
This point of view has been shared by Mkapa during a closing session in the Arusha peace talks nearly two weeks ago. He had recommended the Burundian authorities stop the process of changing the constitution, saying “the political climate is not favourable for that exercise”.
During the demonstration, banners carried slogans of support for the institutions elected in 2015. They also denounced opponents who allegedly attempted a coup in the same year.
The demonstrators stopped for a while in front of the premises of Radio Bonesha FM, one of the main local independent media destroyed in 2015.
“The coup plotters had the microphone to announce their crime,” the protesters chanted. “We have come here to tell the president to stay in control until he gets older.”
The demonstrators consisted mainly of bicycle taxi, motorcycle taxi, and bus drivers.
The poorest nation in the Great Lakes region again descended into a serious crisis after Nkurunziza announced he would run for a third term in April 2015, despite the constitutional two-term limit.
Over 300,000 people have fled to Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of refugees fleeing to Tanzania increased in the past few months.
“Between 600 and 1000 refugees arrive every day in the only camp of Nduta,” the UN said. The camp has already received over 100,000 people – double its accommodation capacity.
– African News Agency (ANA)