, BUJUMBURA, Burundi, May 19 – Burundi’s president sacked his defence and foreign minister on Monday after a failed coup bid, as hundreds of protesters defied warnings to end demonstrations and resumed weeks of anti-government street marches.
Protesters opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in power gathered in several parts of the capital Bujumbura, singing songs and blowing whistles, each time chased away by soldiers shooting in the air, then regrouping elsewhere.
“It was courageous to protest today after all the threats that demonstrators have received from the authorities… and the presence of many heavily armed soldiers, who have not stopped firing live rounds — but fortunately into the air and not at demonstrators,” said Pacifique Nininahazwe, a protest leader.
Nkurunziza meanwhile named Emmanuel Ntahonvukiye, a civilian, as his new defence minister, and Alain Aime Nyamitwe as foreign minister, as well as replacing the trade minister.
Tensions also surfaced within the army as well as in government.
Five days on since the coup attempt led by a top general – which saw soldiers battling each other on the streets – troops have largely replaced the police to stem the protests.