Wed May 20, 2015 8:44AM
Protesters raise their hands during a demonstration in the Musaga neighborhood of Bujumbura, Burundi, May 18, 2015. (© AFP)
Protesters raise their hands during a demonstration in the Musaga neighborhood of Bujumbura, Burundi, May 18, 2015. (© AFP)

Despite various warnings from inside and outside the country, the Burundian president’s party backed him as their candidate for the June presidential polls.

Warnings have come from his predecessors Pierre Buyoya, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya and Domitien Ndayizeye, as well as civil society, opposition parties and Burundi’s powerful Catholic Church. Will President Nkurunziza go the way of Bukina Faso’s Blaise Campoare and be forced to resign if he remains stubborn?

Burundi’s government may have dismissed it as a “joke,” but for 48 hours, last week’s coup looked like it might succeed.

Major General Godefroid Niyombare announced that President Nkurunziza had been removed from office after weeks of protests by Burundians, outraged at his decision to run for a third term.

But the former intelligence chief made a major miscalculation. While the people applauded his move, most of the armed forces did not. They stayed loyal to the president and repelled his attempts to take control of the airport, state house, and national media.

The move was also condemned by regional leaders, the African Union and the UN Security Council.

Now that the main coup leaders are in custody, Mr Nkurunziza faces major challenges. He must marry his wish for five more years in office with his people’s desire for change, and above all, stop the country sliding back into civil war.