PRETORIA: The Heads of State of the East African Community (EAC) on Wednesday condemned the attempted coup in Burundi and called for the return to constitutional order.
Burundi plunged into chaos late on Wednesday as the Burundi Presidency said an attempted coup attempt had "failed," following an army general's claim that the president had been sacked and a transitional government was being discussed.
"The situation is under control," President Pierre Nkurunziza, who was in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, for a special summit with EAC leaders, said.
Earlier in the day, former head of Burundi's National Intelligence Maj. General Godefroid Niyombare announced that the army had overthrown the president and stakeholders were working on a transitional government.
This led to the EAC to call off their planned extraordinary summit.
"The EAC Heads of State have condemned the reported coup attempt in Burundi," said the statement by the leaders.
Given the situation in Burundi, conditions are not conducive for elections in Burundi and the Summit calls upon the authorities to postpone the elections for a period not beyond the mandate of the current government.
The region continues to consult with all stakeholders to make sure that the situation in Burundi normalises and elections can be held in a free, fair and peaceful manner in respect of the constitution of Burundi, the law as of Burundi and the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement.
The leaders also condemned the violence and called on all parties to make sure that the violence stops. "The region will not accept nor standby if violence does not stop or escalates in Burundi."
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, the current chairman of the EAC and Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya addressed a news conference, saying the reported coup would not be the right solution to end political crisis triggered by Nkurunziza's bid for a third term which left more than 10 people dead, with over 40,000 fleeing to neighbouring Rwanda and Tanzania.
President Kikwete said the EAC top leaders received news of the military coup in Burundi with disappointment. "This is not a proper way to resolve the Burundi political crisis," said Kikwete.
The EAC leaders asked the Burundi electoral body to call off the planned election scheduled for June 26 until the situation stabilises. They also appealed to Burundi leaders and state organs to respect and go back to their constitutional order.
The summit, according to the leaders will reconvene soon to review the situation in Burundi. Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all parties to exercise calm and restraint in Burundi.
He reminded all Burundian leaders of the need to preserve peace and stability in a country that has suffered so grievously from previous bouts of violence. South Africa's Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, were also in attendance.