Burundi Protests Continue as Region Leaders Prepare for MeetDesire Nimubona
Opponents of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s plans to seek a third term in office protested for another day on Friday as regional leaders prepared to hold a summit next week to discuss the country’s political crisis.
Four people were killed in the capital, Bujumbura, on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 14 since the demonstrations erupted on April 26. An unspecified number of people are missing, civil-society leader Pacifique Nininahazwe said by phone.
“We condemn the death of these people,” Nininahazwe said. “Everything that is happening is because of the president.”
Burundian opposition parties say the ruling party’s decision to nominated Nkurunziza to run in June elections violates a two-term limit stipulated in peace accords that ended a 12-year civil war in 2005. The African Union said holding elections would be impossible in the current environment.
The unrest in Burundi is stoking fears of a return to conflict if rebel groups abandon the agreements that ended the war in which 300,000 people were killed. It also has the potential to destabilize the Great Lakes region that includes the Democratic Republic of Congo, the world’s biggest source of cobalt and Africa’s top copper producer.
As many as 40,000 Burundians have fled to neighboring Rwanda, Tanzania and Congo since the start of April, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.
Heads of state from the five-nation East African Community -- Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi -- will meet in Tanzania on May 13 to discuss the situation in Burundi.
Burundi’s Revenue Authority said shortages of fuel at gas stations and the beginning of demonstrations resulted in it collecting 43.2 billion francs ($27 million) in April, about 9 billion less than targeted. The authority collected 62.8 billion francs over the same period in 2014, spokeswoman Ange Dany Gakunzi said.
Burundi holds 6 percent of the world’s nickel reserves, according to the African Development Bank. Kermas Group, a London-based investment company, is developing a mine at Musongati in southeastern Burundi, which ranks as one of the 10 largest known deposits of the metal.
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