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Burundi president makes first appearance since failed coup
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President Pierre Nkurunziza makes a brief statement at the presidential palace in Bujumbura, Burundi, Sunday May 17, 2015. (AP)

President Pierre Nkurunziza makes a brief statement at the presidential palace in Bujumbura, Burundi, Sunday May 17, 2015. (AP)

Bujumbura, Burundi, AP—Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza has made his first appearance in the capital since the attempted coup against his government last week.

Nkurunziza appeared before journalists at his presidential palace in Bujumbura Sunday morning. He made a brief statement saying that he is battling a threat from Somalia’s Islamic extremists, Al-Shabab.

Burundi is one of the African countries contributing troops to the African Union force in Somalia that is battling al-Shabab. The extremist rebels have carried out violent attacks in Kenya and Uganda in retaliation for sending troops to Somalia.

Nkurunziza was in neighboring Tanzania on Wednesday when a general announced a coup. Loyal forces put down the rebellion and Nkurunziza returned to the country, but he had not been seen in the capital.

The coup attempt came after weeks of street protests against Nkurunziza’s efforts to stay in power by standing in elections for a third term in office.

Seventeen security officials, including five generals, accused in the attempted coup appeared Saturday before a prosecutor who charged them with an attempt at destabilizing public institutions, lawyers of some of the suspects said. The general who announced the coup, however, remains at large.

In Rome on Sunday, Pope Francis called for a sense of responsibility to prevail in Burundi following the attempted coup.

Francis made the appeal during his Sunday noon blessing from St. Peter’s Square.

He said: “I would like to invite you to pray for the dear people of Burundi, which is undergoing a delicate moment: May the Lord help all to avoid violence and act responsibly for the good of the country.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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