Burundi protest organizers on Saturday called a two-day pause in demonstrations against the president’s move to seek a third term, which they says violates the constitution and endangers the peace deal that ended civil war in 2005. After six straight days of protests in the capital Bujumbura, which the President Pierre Nkurunziza’s office called “insurrection”, the rallies have lost some momentum, with fewer people taking to the streets and clashes with police easing. The United Nations has voiced concerns that live rounds were fired against protesters. Civil rights groups say at least six people have been killed and dozens injured.
“We decided to stop demonstrations for two days, first to allow those who lost their family members in the protests to observe mourning and, second, we want the protesters to regain energy before resuming the fight Monday,” said Pacifier Nininahazwe, head of Flooded, one of the 300 civil society groups that have called for the demonstrations.
In an apparent bid to calm tensions, Burundi’s defense minister said on Saturday no one could force the army to violate the constitution or the Arusha peace deal that ended the 12-year civil war, and called on politicians to respect both documents.