Burundi police on Tuesday fired tear gas and beat protesters who were demanding President Pierre Nkurunziza withdraw his bid for a third term, in a resurgence of unrest that has stoked fears of ethnic conflict in Africa’s Great Lakes.
A Reuters photographer said at least eight protesters in a suburb of the capital Bujumbura were dragged off by police. Some in the crowd of flag-waving and chanting protesters responded by pelting officers with stones and rocks.
Rights groups say at least 20 people have died in three weeks of clashes between security forces and protesters who say Nkurunziza’s ambitions violate the constitution and a peace deal that ended an ethnically fueled civil war in 2005.
Laying the same charges against the president, a group of renegade generals tried and failed to overthrow him last week. The government said late on Monday it would treat any future protesters as accomplices in the failed coup.
But crowds gathered again in the capital’s suburb of Nyakabiga on Tuesday, shouting: “We will not stop until he gives up the third term.”
Diplomats say the longer unrest continues, the more chance that a conflict, which up until now has been largely a struggle for power, reopens old wounds in a region with a history of ethnic violence.