Burundi rebel general swears to keep fighting to topple government

  • AFP, Nairobi
  • Updated: Jul 06, 2015 15:32 IST

Burundian rebel general Leonard Ngendakumana, who participated in an unsuccessful coup in May to topple President Pierre Nkurunziza, has sworn to continue fighting against the government until the current regime is overthrown.

"After we saw that we could not succeed our coup on May 15, we found it was necessary to keep fighting so that we can push Nkurunziza to keep thinking about what he is doing and maybe just resign," Ngendakumana told Kenya's KTN news channel in an interview broadcast late Sunday.

"All those actions that are going on in the country, we are behind them and we are going to intensify them until Pierre Nkurunziza understands that we are there to make him understand by force that he has to give up his third term."

The crisis in the central African nation surrounds Nkurunziza's bid to stand for a third consecutive five-year term in office, a move branded by opponents as unconstitutional and a violation of a peace deal that brought an end to years of civil war in 2006.

General Ngendakumana, a top intelligence officer, is an ally of coup leader General Godefroid Niyombare, who has been on the run since their attempt to seize power was thwarted.

More than 70 people have been killed in more than two months of protests and the failed coup attempt, with almost 144,000 refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries.

"There was a need to organise that coup to make a change in the country because the situation was very bad," Ngendakumana said. "Mr Nkurunziza and his team were leading the country in a situation of civil war, and we could not accept that our population our country were led into a civil war."

"They are trying to move towards an open civil war just to find a way to protect themselves," Ngendakumana said.

Parliamentary and local elections held last Monday were boycotted by the opposition, and the UN electoral observer mission said the polls took place "in a climate of widespread fear and intimidation".

Results are yet to be released.

Presidential polls are due on July 15 followed by senatorial elections on July 24.

There are fears the current crisis could plunge the impoverished, landlocked country back into civil war.

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