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Queues outside shops, banks after protests paused in Burundi's capital

09 May 2015, 16:52

Bujumbura - Long queues formed outside shops and banks in the Burundian capital Bujumbura on Saturday, Reuters witnesses said, as people took advantage of a day-long pause in protests against the president's decision to run for a third term.

A total of 19 people have died in the demonstrations against Pierre Nkurunziza's plan to run again, which its opponents say violates the constitution and a peace deal that ended an ethnically-charged civil war in 2005.

Clashes erupted once more in Bujumbura late on Friday, hours after Nkurunziza formally registered his candidacy. Police said officers killed two protesters when they opened fire on a crowd pelting them with stones.

Protest leader Pacifique Nininahazwe called for a one-day pause in view of the latest deaths, but said demonstrations would "resume immediately" if there was further violence involving the police.

"We asked protesters to suspend demonstrating for one day before resuming the movement on Sunday," Nininahazwe said.

There were no signs of protest in the capital on Saturday, a Reuters witness said, although people took advantage of the calm to stock up on food and cash.

Nkurunziza's bid for a third term has plunged Burundi into its worst unrest since a war that pitted rebels from the ethnic Hutu majority against the then Tutsi-led army in which about 300,000 people were killed.

Hundreds of protesters had taken to the streets late on Friday hours after Nkurunziza formally registered his candidacy. Police said officers had been attempting to remove their barricades when they were pelted with stones.

"Unfortunately there are some police who opened fire and two among the protesters died," said police spokesman Liboire Bakunduwukize.

Burundi's constitutional court ruled this week Nkurunziza could stand, saying his first term did not count because he was picked by parliament rather than elected by the people.

Opponents say the court is biased and have vowed to keep protesting until he withdraws from the race. They have called for the election to be delayed due to the unrest.

More than 50,000 Burundians have fled in recent weeks to neighbouring Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said.

- Reuters


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