The whereabouts of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza was still unknown on Thursday after a coup attempt bursted out in his country on Wednesday.
Nkurunziza who went to Tanzania on Wednesday to attend the East African Community (EAC) extraordinary summit to discuss the political stand-off in his country was stuck in Dar es Salaam after his attempt to return home flopped.
He was blocked by his opponents who seized the airport and ordered the borders to be shut following an attempted coup by his former spy chief.
The EAC extraordinary summit, which was intended to resolve political crisis triggered by Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, was aborted later for his absence.
Burundi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Kavakure said the President would be going back to Burundi. However, the minister did not disclose what means the president would use to get back to his now crisis-torn country.
Bernard Membe, Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, told a news conference he did not know the whereabouts of Nkurunziza.
However, Membe said he would not comment or give any briefing on the Burundi crisis until next week when the EAC council of ministers meet to assess the situation in Burundi.
He asked East African countries to remain calm and await the outcome of the meeting scheduled for next week.
Over national radio in what sources said was a telephone interview, the embattled president told the country that his forces were in control of the country.
Unconfirmed reports said that Nkurunziza may have been transported to Kigoma region in western Tanzania overnight to cross to Burundi through the Burundi-Tanzania border. However, there is no official confirmation yet.
Reports from Burundi said there was heavy gunfire and that shelling was underway in the Burundi capital Bujumbura between the opposition troops and soldiers loyal to President Nkurunziza.
The fiercest battles were reported near the national radio and television which remained in the hands of loyalist troops. Soldiers loyal to President Nkurunziza were also reported to have seized control of the national airport northwest of the capital but the situation remained tense.
As the situation remained tense in Burundi, EAC heads of state on Wednesday condemned the reported ouster of Nkurunziza and called for respect for the country’s constitution.
The region’s top leaders also advised the Burundi Electoral Commission to postpone the next General Election until the political tensions ease off.
The crisis in Burundi has left more than 10 people dead with over 50,000 fleeing to Rwanda and Tanzania.
Source: The Punch