48 hours: Inside Burundi coup that could have been but never was
Saturday May 16 2015
Men hold Burundi's flag as people take to the streets of Bujumbura to celebrate following the radio announcement by Major General Godefroid Niyombare that President Nkurunziza was overthrown on May 13, 2015. PHOTO | JENNIFER HUXTA | AFP
President Nkurunziza had appeared calm and relaxed when he walked off the plane at the rain-swept Julius Nyerere International Airport a few hours earlier but many members of his entourage were anxious.
Despite his bullish position, the Burundi leader was isolated in the region and abroad, and his troops were failing to clear the crowds of protestors in restive neighbourhoods of Bujumbura.
While the crowds and the coup plotters jubilated alongside protestors, the pro-Nkurunziza camp went to work with army chief General Prime Niyongabo leading the military effort and Nkurunziza’s advisor and right-hand man Willy Nyamitwe working the media and diplomatic channels.
By nightfall, the two rival groups of soldiers had played out to a draw.
Forty-eight hours after it began, the coup was over. In downtown Bujumbura, the protestors slowly started emerging back onto the streets and re-erecting barricades.