May 5, 2015
On Tuesday, at about 11:45, a group of about 75 individuals protesting President Pierre Nkurunziza’s candidacy for a third term approached the U.S. Embassy. The protesters were not the university students who have been peacefully assembling by the U.S. Embassy compound. The students did not join the protest and have continued to remain calm and peaceful.
Shortly after the protestors’ arrival, a group of Burundian National Police arrived. They appeared to be following the protesters and were quickly reinforced by a riot squad. The U.S. Embassy did not request police assistance as the demonstration was non-violent and not directed at the embassy. The police deployed several canisters of tear gas and fired a few warning rounds into the air, dispersing the protesters. The U.S. Embassy did not request that the protest be dispersed and observed no violence by the protesters. The U.S. Embassy notes that none of the students gathered around the Embassy were involved with the protesters. There were no reported injuries from the incident.
Protesters should be able to communicate their message without being met with violence and reprisal. The United States believes the government of Burundi should permit peaceful protests, marches and dissent and urges all parties to engage seriously in the dialogue about the future of Burundi to establish the framework for a peaceful and credible electoral process. The United States again calls on the Government of Burundi to respect the right of its citizens to peacefully assemble, to permit freedom of expression and legitimate dissent, and to refrain from violence. In order to find a sustainable solution to the current political issues a dialogue must take place in a climate of full respect for the civil liberties, including freedoms of expression, assembly, and the press, of all parties.