May 18, 2015

Days after an attempted military coup was made against his government, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza made his first public appearance Sunday at the capital.

During his brief statement to the media, Nkurunziza said he has been in discussion with other neighboring East African countries leaders to discuss strategies to stop the threats pose against Kenya and Uganda by Al-Shabab, the Islamic militant group that is based in Somalia.

In what could be considered an act of defiance to the growing pressure from the international community to withdraw his presidential bid for a third-term in office, Nkurunziza, who was outside of the country in Dar es Salam, Tanzania on Wednesday when the attempted coup was made against his regime, did not discuss the coup or address the ongoing street protests and violence that have erupted in the capital, Bujumbura, since last month after he announced his plan to renew his presidential candidacy for a third-term.

Protesters say Nkurunziza’s presidential bid for a third-term violates the country’s constitution and the 2006 Arusha Agreement that ended its ethnic civil war.

The attempted coup news was announced on Wednesday on the radio by a military general, but was quickly squelched by the Nkurunziza’s loyalists when after a few hours later, the president tweeted that the situation was under control.

Several government officials have been arrested and charged in relation to the coup.

Last week, African leaders held an emergency meeting with other international leaders in Tanzania to discuss Nkurunziza’s bid and how to restore peace to the country.

The international community, including the African Union leaders, US, and Europe has asked Nkurunziza to reconsider his bid and to postpone the June 26 presidential election amid fear that the violence in the country could lead to a civil war.

US Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who earlier this month just returned from a recent trip to Africa with Secretary Kerry, was in Tanzania to attend the emergency meeting.

The Mo Ibrahim foundation, an organization committed to better governance and leadership on the continent, has also lent its voice to the growing international community concerns over the escalating tensed situation and violence in Burundi, urging “the President to find an acceptable and credible compromise with all the various parties concerned including the civil society organizations of Burundi. Only the President can restore peace and harmony to his country and avoid the continued shedding of the blood of his own people.”

Since the protests erupted in Bujumbura, thousands of people have fled the country to neighboring countries in Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo to seek refuge from the chaos and violence. Tens of people have died.

Earlier this month, a court ruled that Mr. Nkurunziza’s bid for another five year in office was valid.

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