Army general declares coup in Burundi! : Urgent prayers for peace requested

This is a critical time for Burundi as an army general says senior officers are “dismissing” President Nkurunziza, amid unrest over his re-election bid.

Godefroid Niyombareh announced that a national salvation committee had been set up to run the country, but it is not clear how much support he and the other officers have or whether this will simply turn out to be an ‘attempted’ coup.

President Nkurunziza is currently at a summit in Tanzania discussing his decision to run for a third term, which critics say is unconstitutional.  Earlier today, police fired tear gas and live ammunition on protesters as they came within a kilometre of the presidency in the capital Bujumbura.

Simon Guillebaud is in Burundi, and living right where the recent protests have been taking place.

Simon is an author, speaker, and founder of Great Lakes Outreach, with a commitment to seeing Burundi transformed. He’s married to Lizzie and they have three children, Josiah, Grace and Zac, who are 5, 7, and 9 years old. Lizzie and the children travelled to England last week, ironically, not because of the unrest, but because Josiah (5) choked on some popcorn and requires a bronchoscopy as soon as possible to get the popcorn out of his lung – treatment that can’t be performed in Burundi.

(This is 200m from our house, and 20m from our partner New Generation)

(This is 200m from our house, and 20m from our partner New Generation)

In the past two weeks there has been serious rioting in the country as demonstrators clashed with police over the President’s re-election bid. Simon picks up the story from last week, the morning after his wife and children left to travel to England.

“I awoke this morning and it’s deathly quiet – not just because last night’s half-hour gunfight about 1km away has ceased and there’s hopefully an agreed day of peace for people to restock with food, but also because the usual hubbub of my kids playing in the next room isn’t taking place. I’m home alone now, but feel relieved that they are gone, safe, and untraumatised. So many others aren’t as fortunate. Please keep praying for our friends here; for our precious colleagues, partners, neighbours, leaders; for God to do a miracle for beautiful Burundi”.

A protester runs past a Burundian police riot van in Musaga, on the ourskirts of Bujumbura, on April 27, 2015. Police and opposition activists clashed on the second day of protests against a bid by the central African nation's president to seek a controversial third term in office, witnesses said.  AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA

A protester runs past a Burundian police riot van in Musaga, on the ourskirts of Bujumbura, on April 27, 2015. Police and opposition activists clashed on the second day of protests against a bid by the central African nation’s president to seek a controversial third term in office, witnesses said. AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA

Simon Guillebaud has been out and about on his motorcycle this afternoon (Wed 13th May) and has witnessed jubilant crowds on the streets celebrating the news of the coup that was announced just a few hours ago.  In one place there appeared to be a dead body with a crowd gathered around it and lots of alcohol was being consumed. Although huge celebrations of the coup are taking place in the capital right now, Simon has deep concerns over how President Nkurunziza’s supporters will react in the coming days.

Simon requests your prayers for peace in the country at this critical time.

Please pray for Simon, Lizzie, Josiah, Grace and Zac during this difficult period. At the time, Josiah’s popcorn incident seemed like something bad had stricken the family, but in retrospect, the children were spared the worst of the rioting and gunfire, etc. So what looked like a bad situation has turned out for good.  Simon also reports, “mercifully few people have died in the last four days of rioting, and I want to encourage you that I believe your prayers are being answered”.

Just very recently, Simon has had discussions with radio and TV outlets with a view to “maximise the media to sow hope, peace, reconciliation – to bombard the country’s captive audience with truth and seize this critical opportunity to influence the course of history in our nation. I cannot think of anything more strategic to do in Burundi right now”. There is currently an open door for this media venture in Burundi if sufficient funding can be raised. £30/$50 would pay for a 1-hour programme that might get heard/seen by 100,000 people with repeat playings. Please pray that this badly needed venture will succeed and please prayerfully consider helping to make it happen. You can keep up to date with Simon through his blog at http://www.simonguillebaud.com