Burundi: 5 generals arrested for plotting failed coup

After weeks of civilian protests against Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial bid for a third term, five generals have been arrested for plotting a failed coup attempt against the president.

Jerome Delay
General Nijungeko Juvenal, who took part in the fizzled coup attempt, is brought handcuffed to the court after surrendering in Bujumbura, Burundi, Saturday May 16, 2015. Eighteen soldiers accused of plotting the coup were brought in to face charges.

Five generals have been arrested for plotting a failed coup attempt against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza, a top a Burundi official said Saturday.

Three army generals and two police generals were arrested along with three lower-ranking officers and eight soldiers, presidential spokesman Gervais Abayeho told The Associated Press. One of the generals arrested is a former defense minister, he said.

The coup attempt came amid Burundi's turmoil over Nkurunziza's bid for a third term in office. After weeks of street protests against Nkurunziza's efforts to stay in power, a general announced the coup on Wednesday. Nkurunziza was in Tanzania attending an emergency regional summit to discuss Burundi's crisis when the attempted coup started, but soldiers loyal to the president stopped the rebellion.

The general who announced the coup, former intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Godefroid Niyombare, is in hiding and has not yet been arrested.

Officials said Friday that Nkurunziza had returned to the capital though he hasn't been seen in public.

Despite the failure of a coup against Nkurunziza, about 30 protesters said Saturday they will continue demonstrating against the leader's bid for a third term,

The protesters defied Nkurunziza's ban on demonstrations and vowed to continue to take to the streets to press the president to drop his plan to run for re-election in June.

"We are going to continue with the protests because our aim is to stop the president's third term. We can see that they are determined to stop us but we are not getting scared and we will not stop the protests. We will continue to fight for the constitution to be respected," said Jean Paul Ndayiragije.

Opposition leaders and members of privately owned media said they fear being targeted in a government crackdown of those suspected of involvement in a failed attempt to overthrow Nkurunziza.

Burundi's election commission said it will review the situation in the coming week to determine whether elections should continue.

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