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'The President Will Go to the Hague': Protests Escalate in Burundi

VICE News was on the ground in Burundi to capture the unrest amongst protestors who are demonstrating against President Pierre Nkurunziza's plan to run for a third term in office.
Photo by Alex Pritz

For nearly two weeks, angry Burundi residents have stormed the streets of the capital city of Bujumbura, demonstrating against President Pierre Nkurunziza, who plans to run for a controversial third term in office. Nkurunziza registered on Friday to run in the election, which is still more than a month away.

Protesters across Bujumbura are calling for the elections to be delayed, and are claiming that Nkurunziza's actions defy the nation's constitution. Burundi's constitutional court, however, has ruled that Nkurunziza can run for another term, as he was not elected by popular vote when he first took office.


Dozens have died and been injured since the unrest began in late April, and a reported 600 people have been detained. Protesters have hurled rocks at police and burned tires, while police have responded with gunfire, water cannons, and tear gas. On May 7, reports surfaced that anti-government protesters and mobs burned a man's body, who was said to be a member of the Imbonerakure, the youth wing of Burundi's ruling CNDD-FDD party, which is known for intimidating fellow politicians.

According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, more than 50,000 Burundians have fled to nearby Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In a statement on Friday, the agency detailed the challenges residents are facing while attempting to leave the country. Women have reported threats of rape, and have said they have had to bribe their way through roadblocks, while others reportedly spent hours wandering the bush with their children.

Related: Burundi Protesters Burn Body as Violence Escalates Over President's Bid for Third Term

Protesters take a break for a chat in Musaga, Bujumbura.

Friendship peeks its way through the streets of Musaga.

An army bulldozer attempts to dismantle roadblocks at the entrance to Musaga, but was peacefully repelled.

Protesters chant "The President will go to the Hague" at the entrance to Musaga.

Red Cross medical teams regularly patrol the city of Bujumbura.

Protesters and army personnel argue over the fate of Musaga's roadblocks.


A man makes an impassioned speech to onlookers at the entrance to Musaga.

At least two protesters were killed in Cibitoke during clashes with suspected Imbonerakure.

Police and suspected Imbonerakure advance down the streets of Cibitoke.

Residents lit fires and beat on the sides of buildings after at least two died during clashes in Cibitoke.

A man takes cell phone photos of a suspected Imbonerakure killed by a mob in Nyakabiga.

All photos by Alex Pritz/VICE News