East African leaders will meet on Sunday at a special summit to discuss the crisis in Burundi, where police and protesters continue to clash on the streets of the capital and the opposition has boycotted peace talks.
The EAC said in a tweet that another summit would be held on Sunday, with ministers holding talks on Saturday. Nkurunziza’s office said it was unclear if the president would travel to the summit, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
“It’s too soon to know, but Burundi will be represented, that is for sure,” said presidential spokesman Gervais Abayeho.
The protests, which started on April 26, are part of the biggest political crisis since an ethnically-charged civil war ended in 2005. Many people fear the violence, if left unchecked, could lead to renewed ethnic bloodletting between the Hutu and Tutsi communities.
Rights groups say at least 20 people have been killed in clashes between the police and protesters who say Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term violates the constitution. The president’s supporters disagree, and say a constitutional court ruling allows him to run.
The opposition boycotted talks after one of its leaders was murdered on Saturday.
A Reuters photographer in the Buyenzi neighborhood of the capital on Tuesday saw police shooting in the direction of protesters who had earlier thrown rocks. It was not clear if anyone was wounded.
“I can’t go to work and I don’t know how to get to the office as policemen are shooting,” said Claude, a Buyenzi resident who declined to give his full name. Jacqueline, who lives in the flashpoint Cibitoke area, added: “Two grenade explosions were heard at dawn but we don’t know about casualties yet.”
Some 800,000 mainly Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in a 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda. The current unrest has prompted more than 110,000 Burundians to flee into Rwanda, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo for fear that violence will spread outside Bujumbura.