Burundi blames journalists for remaining protests

Bujumbura (Burundi) (AFP) - Burundi's government said on Thursday that weeks of protests against a third term bid by the president were over, claiming that the remaining demonstrators were only being organised by journalists.

The troubled central African nation has been in crisis since late April over President Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial bid to stand for a third consecutive five-year term, a move branded by opponents as unconstitutional and a violation of a 2006 peace deal that ended 13 years of civil war.

"There are no more demonstrations in Bujumbura or inside the country," Pierre Nkurikiye, deputy spokesman for the security ministry and police said in a statement, adding that where some were demonstrating, it was the media to blame.

"It is a movement of some journalists -- especially those sent by the international media -- who... organise groups of people in remote areas, away from police, and ask them to sing, to exhibit placards."

Several journalists who have been covering Burundi's crisis, which has seen weeks of street demonstrations, a violent police crackdown and a failed coup attempt by a section of the army, have complained of being subjected to threats -- including death threats -- by members of the police or other braches of the security forces.

Burundi's domestic independent media has also been largely silenced amid the unrest, with private radio stations attacked and destroyed during the coup attempt.

Rights group Amnesty International said this week that Burundian journalists were operating in a "climate of fear", while Reporters Without Borders said on Thursday that some 50 journalists had fled the country "for security reasons and say it is still too dangerous to go back".

Protesters gathered in some suburbs of Bujumbura on Thursday -- as they have done almost every day since April 26 -- with hundreds chanting slogans and singing against Nkurunziza's third term bid.

Around 40 people have died in a police crackdown on the protests, and nearly 100,000 Burundians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries. Five were shot and wounded on Wednesday, according to witnesses.