The Burundian army announced on 13 May that President Pierre Nkurunziza was removed from his office following weeks of violence in the country after the leader said he will seek a third term in the June 2015 election.

Protesters accused the leader of violating the constitution and the Arusha Peace Agreement, which says the president can only stay in power for two terms. At least 20 demonstrators were killed and reports emerged that police allegedly fired on protesters.

IBTimes UK spoke with Lionelle Kingsley Bio, vice-president of the UK Burundian Diaspora on the ongoing unrest, while experts warned that a second civil war might erupt in the country.

Bio, as well as other international observers, alleged that Nkurunziza aims to instigate a fear of genocide and use it in his favour. As a result, 50,000 Burundians who fear persecution have fled the country.

Bio also warned that the history of the region cannot be ignored and the ongoing unrest in Burundi has "worrying similarities" to what happened during the 1994 Rwanda genocide in which at least 800,000 people, mainly Tutsi and moderate Hutu, were killed.

Burundi factbox

Capital: Bujumbura.

Population: 10.6 million of whom 85% are Hutu, 14% Tutsi, and 1% Twa.

Official languages: Kirundi, French, English.

Colonisation era: Burundi and Rwanda were German colonies from the 19<sup>th century until the end of the Second World War, when Belgium took control of the so-called "Rwanda-Urundi", modern day Rwanda and Burundi, that became a Belgian League of Nations mandate.

Burundi gained independence and established a constitutional monarchy in 1962. It became a republic in 1966.

Civil war: The first democratically elected Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye, was assassinated by Tutsi extremists three months after taking office in 1993. Hutus started massacring Tutsis and in retaliation, the army, mainly composed of Tutsis, killed thousands of Hutus.

This sparked civil war which claimed at least 300,000 lives.

Uganda-based independent journalist Fulvio Beltrami told IBTimes UK that in order to implement a genocide fear, Nkurunziza used the Imbonerakure - the youth wing of his party's National Council for the Defense of Democracy - which has been allegedly brainwashed with genocide propaganda during training in eastern Congo by the Hutu rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

The FDLR includes members of the Interahamwe, or "those who stand together", a Hutu paramilitary organisation responsible for the Rwanda genocide. The organisation left Rwanda and sheltered in DR Congo in the aftermath of the ethnic cleansing.

Rwanda has also expressed concern at reports claiming that violence in Burundi was linked to the FDLR. The claim has been denied by the government, which has also dismissed coup claims.

People are fleeing because of 'rumors'

Willy Nyamitwe, spokesperson for the Burundian government, told IBTimes UK that according to the government's figures, only 35,000 Burundians have left the country.

"Among all the persons who fled none can say that they were injured, none of them can say that their houses had been burned or destroyed, which means that people are fleeing the country because of rumours spread by some media station here that warned a total war was coming," said Nyamitwe.

"People want to raise a conflict between Burundi and neighbouring countries like Rwanda by using words such as genocide – but who is going to kill who? Through dialogue and negotiations we came out with a solution in our country and we reached a deal of 50/50 power sharing. So people who are bringing in this narrative, that is negative and wrong; they just want to create conflicts.

"Some even said that there are members of the FDLR in our country, but this is false because nobody was able to provide any evidence of what they were stating."

Who is loyalist? Who is backing the coup?

While the situation is still very unclear, sources have told IBTimes UK that a divided army has taken different stands in this conflict.

Backing the coup:

  • Burundian Parachute Battalion, the "beret rouges" (red berets).
  • Burundi's 11th Tank Battalion, known as the "bérets noirs" (the black berets).
  • ISCAM, the Reserve Officers School.
  • 'BASE' unit based nearby Musaga, which provides equipment for the army.

Backing the President:

  • Police forces.
  • Imbonerakure militias, who are reported to have joined the police.
  • Garde Presidentielle: personal guards and elements of the presidential guard. Said to be significant both in numbers and equipment.