Burundi; 3 Arrested for Coup Attempt

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Loyalist troops in Burundi have arrested at least three leaders of a failed coup against President Pierre Nkurunziza, a presidential spokesman said.

Gervais Abayeho said those arrested on Friday were two army generals, including former Defence Minister Cyrille Ndayirukiye, and a police general.

Major-General Godefroid Niyombare, who led the coup attempt, was “still on the run, his whereabouts are not known to us”, Abehayo told the Reuters news agency.

Meanwhile, President Nkurunziza has returned to the capital Bujumbura following a failed coup attempt and will address the nation on Friday, officials in the president’s office said.

“He is in Bujumbura in a very secure place,” an aide to the president told AFP. “He will address the nation today.”

The coup leader’s spokesman, Venon Ndabaneze, confirmed to the AFP news agency by phone that organisers of the coup had decided to surrender when loyalist troops arrested him, deputy coup leader Cyrille Ndayirukiye and another senior figure among the mutineers.

“We decided to give ourselves up. We have laid down our arms. We have called the security ministry to tell them we no longer have any arms,” Ndabaneze said, seconds before he could be heard being arrested.

AFP remained on the line as the leaders were detained.

The dramatic end to the coup attempt came shortly after the presidency announced that Nkurunziza – who was in neighbouring Tanzania when the coup was declared – had returned to the country.

More than 50,000 Burundians have fled the violence to neighbouring nations in recent weeks, with the UN preparing for thousands more refugees.

In his message announcing the coup, Niyombare signalled he did not want to take power himself, vowing instead to work for “the resumption of the electoral process in a peaceful and fair environment”.

Niyombare is a highly respected figure who was sacked from his intelligence post in February after he opposed Nkurunziza’s attempt to prolong his 10-year rule.

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