Burundi’s Nkurunziza: ‘It’s either me or al-Shabab’


Pierre Nkurunziza, the Burundi president, says he has been battling a threat from al-Shabab, in his first appearance in the capital since last week’s attempted coup against his government.

Nkurunziza made a brief statement about the Somali rebel group, as he appeared before journalists at his presidential palace in Bujumbura on Sunday morning.

“We are very preoccupied by al-Shabab’s well-known attack. You know that Burundi has contributed to sending troops to Somalia so we came here to contact our friends and colleagues here in Kenya as well as in Uganda,” Nkurunziza said.

“Both are privileged targets for al-Shabab. The agenda is to put in place proactive measures to face these attacks that are a security risk to the citizens of Burundi.”

Later on Sunday, his office said that parliamentary and presidential elections due to take place in Burundi in May and June could be delayed following the coup attempt.

Nkurunziza failed to answer questions posed to him by the media about his decision to run for another five-year term, which opponents say violates the constitution.

President Nkurunziza was in neighbouring Tanzania on Wednesday when a general announced a coup.

Reprisal attacks

Loyal forces overcame the rebellion when Nkurunziza returned to the country. Since his return activists have accused the government of reprisal attacks on opposition leaders and journalists, with private media houses reportedly attacked.

Seventeen security officials, including five generals, accused in the attempted coup appeared on Saturday before a prosecutor who charged them with an attempt at destabilising public institutions, lawyers of some of the suspects said.

The coup attempt came after weeks of street protests against Nkurunziza’s efforts to stay in power by standing for a third term in office.

Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from Bujumbura, said the president wanted to show that he was back in the country and in control.

“He told Burundians they were either with him or with the terrorists,” Mutasa said.

Source: Agencies

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