BUJUMBURA, May 8 – Days of deadly clashes have rocked Burundi since the ruling party nominated President Pierre Nkurunziza to stand for reelection on April 25, and at least 18 people have been killed.
Nkurunziza was first elected by parliament in 2005 as the country sought to end a 1993-2006 civil war, and he also won a general election in 2010. Here is a recap of the deadly unrest.
– Nkurunziza aims for a third term –
On April 25, Nkurunziza is nominated by his party, the ruling CNDD-FDD, to stand for re-election for a third term on June 26.
Opposition parties call for peaceful protests against what it terms a “coup”. In turn, the government bans protests and warns against attempts to foment an “uprising.”
– Protests start –
The next day, security forces deploy in large numbers as thousands of demonstrators defy the ban. Three people die in clashes according to the Red Cross, while two more are killed overnight in raids, which witnesses say were carried out by the ruling party’s Imbonerakure militia.
– Civil leaders arrested, one radio shut down –
On April 27, the head of the main human rights association in Burundi, Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, is arrested and held for 30 hours.
An arrest warrant is also issued for Vital Nshimirimana, head of a campaign against Nkurunziza, who goes into hiding.
Officials shut down the popular independent African Public Radio (RPA) after accusing it of broadcasting calls to protest.
Two days later, access to some social media sites via mobile phones is also blocked.
– Authorities denounce a “terrorist enterprise” –
On May 2, Burundi’s security minister, General Gabriel Nizigama accuses the protesters of providing cover for a “terrorist enterprise” and vows to crack down on what he calls “criminals, terrorists and even enemies of the country.”
It follows a grenade attack that killed three people, including two police officers.
Defence Minister General Pontien Gaciyubwenge, declares the army’s neutrality and calls for an end to attacks on citizens’ rights.
The next day however, chief of staff of Burundi’s army pledges the military’s loyalty to the country’s authorities.
– Constitutional Court validates Nkurunziza’s candidacy –
On May 5, the country’s constitutional court clears Nkurunziza to run for a third term, with the judgement signed by six out of seven judges.
The decision comes hours after the court’s vice-president refuses to sign the ruling, and flees the country citing “enormous pressure and even death threats” from senior figures, whom he refuses to name.
– Nkurunziza insists he will run for a third term –
On May 6, Nkurunziza defies increasing pressure at home and abroad, notably from the five-nation regional East Africa Community — which includes Burundi — and says he will run for a third term.
Opposition leader Audifax Ndabitoreye is briefly arrested for “insurrection” in front of journalists a day after an interview in which he called for further protests.
– More deadly clashes – first deaths outside Bujumbura –
On May 7, the African Union warns that “the environment is not conducive for an election,” as demonstrators mark a 12th day of protests and clash with police and members of the ruling party’s Imbonerakure militia.
Four people are killed, including one in Gisozi, a town 80 kilometres (50 miles) southeast of Bujumbura, the first death recorded outside the capital.