Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza sacks ministers after failed coup

President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi speaking to journalists in Bujumbura, 17 May 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption President Pierre Nkurunziza is seeking a third term which opponents say is unconstitutional

Burundi's president has sacked three cabinet ministers, as protests resumed after last week's failed coup.

The president's spokesman denied that the dismissal of the defence, external relations and trade ministers was linked to the coup attempt.

Soldiers fired in the air to disperse protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza running for a third term in elections due next month.

Mr Nkurunziza returned from Tanzania last week after the unrest.

The sacked MPs' replacements have already been appointed, including Emmanuel Ntahomvukiye as defence minister.

The BBC's Ruth Nesoba in Bujumbura says this will be the first time Burundi has a civilian in charge of the military.

Presidential spokesperson Gervais Abayeho told the BBC that Mr Nkurunziza has a constitutional right to reshuffle his cabinet whenever he feels it is necessary.

However, our correspondent says the appointments may deepen the ongoing political crisis because the outgoing defence minister is a former soldier with huge following.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Soldiers fired live rounds into the air

Earlier on Monday, soldiers fire live rounds in the as protesters chanted for President Nkurunziza to drop his plans to seek a third term in elections.

Some businesses were closed and activities stopped in the Nyakabiga, Musaga and Mutakura neighbourhoods of Bujumbura.

However, our correspondent says life carried on as normal in areas where the president is popular.

Latest African news updates

The UN refugee agency says that more than 105,000 people have fled Burundi into neighbouring countries.

Its representative in Tanzania Joyce Mendz-Cole told the BBC's Outside Source programme there was an outbreak of cholera in the Nyarugusu camp, where refugees have been fleeing.

She added that there are 77 unconfirmed cases of cholera, 10 confirmed cases and 700 people suffering from various illnesses, most with watery diarrhœa, which is a symptom of cholera.

On Sunday, Kenya's president called his Burundian counterpart, urging him to delay the elections.

Several alleged leaders of the coup attempt have been arrested but Gen Godefroid Niyombare, who announced it in a radio broadcast, remains on the run.

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Media captionYour 60-second guide to Burundi

President Nkurunziza made his first official appearance in front of international media since returning from Tanzania on Sunday.

He said nothing about the coup plot or the current crisis in the country.

Instead, he said Burundi faced a specific threat from the Somali Islamist movement al-Shabab.

Al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mahamud Rage denied this, saying the statement was intended "to divert the world's attention from him".

Burundi has troops fighting al-Shabab, as part of the African Union mission in Somalia.

Burundi: Key facts

The country is facing its worst turmoil since the 12-year civil war ended in 2005

  • 10.4m population

  • 50 years - life expectancy for a man

  • 2nd poorest country in the world

  • 85% are Hutu, 14% Tutsi

  • 300,000 died in civil war

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