[JURIST] Burundi authorities arrested several military generals Friday after an unsuccessful coup attempt and said the suspects will face a military court for mutiny charges. Maj. Gen. Godefroid Niyombare announced [CNN report] the coup on Wednesday. President Pierre Nkurunziza [BBC profile] was in Tanzania at the time the coup was announced but is believed to be back in his country. In Bujumbura, troops supporting the president and those supporting Niyombare fought on the streets Wednesday and Thursday. Following the announcement, the airport in Bujumbura and the land borders were closed, but the streets reportedly calmed [AP report] down Friday.
Burundi has faced unrest since Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term in April, and the unrest intensified after the Constitutional Court ruled earlier this month that he could seek a third term [JURIST report] in office without violating the country’s constitution, which states that presidents shall be universally elected into office for a term of five years and can renew the term once. Burundi authorities arrested [JURIST report] political opposition leader Audifax Ndabitoreye in May shortly after he met with East African Community [official website] ministers in the capital city of Bujumbura. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] expressed concern [JURIST report] over actions by Burundian authorities ahead of its upcoming presidential elections. The OHCHR said last month that the upcoming elections in Burundi place the nation at a critical moment in history [JURIST report], urging the nation to choose democracy in the elections. Burundi has also been criticized for human rights violations and limitations on freedom in the last few years. In February Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] said that Burundian National Defense Forces and police committed at least 47 extrajudicial executions [JURIST report] following confrontation with an armed group in Cibitoke. HRW also said that armed members of the Burundian youth force, known as the Imbonerakure, participated in the executions. Earlier that month, the OHCHR expressed concerns about freedom of expression [JURIST report] in Burundi following the arrest of Bob Rugurika, director of Radio Public Africaine.