Burundi leader fails to return to Bujumbura after coup attempt

East African leaders pose for as photo during their mini summit to discuss the Burundi problem.
(L-R) Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta  pose for a  photo during their mini summit to discuss the Burundi problem.

By Henry D Gombya in London and Nkonge I Kaggwa in Kampala

The whereabouts of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza remained unknown as we went to press today following an attempted military coup d’état announced by sacked Major General  Godefroid Niyombare who issued a radio statement that Nkurunziza had been overthrown.

Reports we are getting from the Ugandan capital Kampala say President Nkurunziza who is trying to contest his country’s presidency for a ‘third term in office’, failed to land in the Burundian capital Bujumbura after it was deemed unsafe for him to do so. Having attended a meeting with East African leaders in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam, Mr Nkurunziza boarded his private jet for home but we understand his plane could have been diverted to Kampala after reporting it had difficulties landing in Bujumbura.

Gen Niyombare, a former head of Burundi’s intelligence services, was sacked in February last year for opposing Nkurunziza’s ultimate wish to stand again for his country’s presidency. A panel of Burundian judges had last week ruled Mr Nkurunziza was not breaking any law in his bid to seek for office again as his first five years in office had been as a result of a parliamentary vote instead of going out to the public to seek for office. The court ruled that if Nkurunziza chose to stand again next year, he would be trying to return to office for the second and vitally for the last time in his life.

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