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More Protests in Burundi, as African Leaders Discuss Politics

  • VOA News

Demonstrators trying to march to the town center confront police, before they were dispersed with tear gas, in the Ngagara district of Bujumbura, Burundi, May 13, 2015.

Demonstrators trying to march to the town center confront police, before they were dispersed with tear gas, in the Ngagara district of Bujumbura, Burundi, May 13, 2015.

Witnesses say police in Burundi have opened fire on a crowd of protesters in the nation's capital, Bujumbura, as African leaders meet in Tanzania to discuss Burundi's political conflict.

Reports say police fired shots and tear gas Wednesday to disperse the crowd that gathered in the main square in the capital. There was no immediate word about whether anyone was hurt.

Meanwhile in Tanzania's capital Dar es Salam, Burundi's embattled President Pierre Nkurunziza is attending a meeting with other heads of state in the East African Community -- Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and host Tanzania. The leaders are expected to discuss Burundi's political crisis, the impetus for the riots that have cost at least 14 lives in the capital in the past three weeks.

More than 200 people have been wounded in the demonstrations that started in late April, after President Nkurunziza announced his plan to run for a third term in office.

Critics of the plan say running for a third term would be unconstitutional, while the president and his supporters insist it is legal because he was chosen by lawmakers, not a general election, for his first five-year term in 2005. Burundi's constitutional court has ruled in the president's favor.

Nkurunziza vowed in a speech last week that if he is re-elected, it will be his last term. He also called for an end to the protests, saying it is important the June 26 elections be held in a peaceful atmosphere.

Human rights groups say the government and its supporters are using violence and intimidation against the protesters and opposition. Last week security forces arrested one of the presidential candidates accused of organizing protests.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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