Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 May 2015
Burundi’s president Nkurunziza has today been overthrown by the country’s military, after weeks of bloodshed and instability in the capital Bujumbura.
The bloodless military coup comes, following the ruling two weeks ago of the country’s Constitutional Court upholding the decision of the president to seek a third term in office, contrary to the constitution and the agreed peace accord.
President Nkurunziza was away in Tanzania where he was taking part in talks with the leaders of neighbouring countries, to find a peaceful resolution to the chaos and violence that had gripped Burundi for several weeks.
Today’s coup must be a warning to other leaders in Africa that are contemplating a third term, contrary to constitution, as well as abusing their office. ‘Do not underestimate the power of the people and the silence of the military’.
Thousands of people in Burundi are celebrating the overthrow of the president, who is insisting that he is still in charge of the country.
But the military general leading the coup, who is also the former head of intelligence in the army, said that the ousted president is not allowed to return to the country, as the army continues to consolidate its position and calls for calm.
It is not yet clear what will be the response of the police, whose credibility and independence have been strongly questioned.
Analysts say that the police is no match to the well trained and heavily armed military, who up till today had remained totally quiet and neutral, whilst heavily armed riot police brutalised protesters.
Over a dozen protesters have been killed by the police and hundreds more injured, in weeks of protest against the decision of president Nkurunziza to run for a third term.
Elections are due in Burundi next month, and president Nkurunziza says that he will return to contest those elections.
Today’s coup in Burundi will be seen as a breath of fresh air across several capitals in Africa, serving as a reminder to other despotic leaders in the continent, who are violating their country’s constitution and are determined to hang on to power.
Whilst they may have some of the military and police chiefs living off the corrupt handouts they are dolling out in return for looking the other way, there is always one patriotic and brave military leader, who is prepared and willing to stand up for justice and civil liberty.
In Sierra Leone, the head of the army was forced to confine the army to barracks, warning them to keep out of politics. But observers say that the military in Sierra Leone is highly politicised, and there are serious divisions within the ranks.
President Koroma and his political cronies, who are planning to amend the country’s constitution so as to allow Koroma to contest a third term election, should take cognizance of today’s events in Burundi.
Last year, rioting protesters in Burkina Faso, brought the violent downfall of the country’s president, following his constitutional violation and disrespect for civil liberty, which saw the burning down of the parliament.