Thousands flee Burundi as violent protests over presidential announcement leave five dead

Protesters set fire to tyres as part of the demonstration Credit: Reuters

Thousands have fled the African nation of Burundi as violent protests against the president's decision to stand for a third term break out across the country, leaving five people dead.

Police fired tear gas and water cannon as around 200 protesters gathered in the capital city of Bujumbura today, voicing anger at the announcement they claim violates the constitution.

Hundreds of people gathered in the streets for the second day of demonstrations Credit: Reuters
Police fired tear gas and water cannon at protesters Credit: Reuters

Officials in neighbouring Rwanda said more than 20,000 refugees had now crossed the border, with thousands more thought to have gone into the Congo.

Chanting "The fight continues", protesters took to the streets for a second day of demonstrations, setting fire to tyres and throwing stones.

President Pierre Nkurunziza made the announcement on Saturday that he plans to run in the elections on June 26, despite a peace agreement limiting him to two terms.

The restriction was put into force in the constitution and the Arusha peace agreement, which helped end an ethnically-fuelled civil war in 2005.

Protesters chanted: 'The fight continues' Credit: Reuters
Protesters say the announcement violates their constitution Credit: Reuters
President Pierre Nkurunziza wants to stand for a second term Credit: Reuters

His supporters have argued that his first term does not count, as he was appointed by law-makers, rather than elected.

Prominent activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa has reportedly also been arrested today after appearing on a live radio programme to discuss the issue.

Officers then allegedly raided and shut down the Radio Broadcasters' Association studio which had broadcast the show.

Witnesses on the ground say the army has now been deployed as forces try to keep protesters contained in different parts of the capital, to prevent them converging on the city centre.

It is the second day of demonstrations Credit: Reuters