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Calls for calm in Burundi

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has called on all parties in Burundi to exercise calm.

FILE: At least 20 people have been killed in the uprising. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has called on all parties in Burundi to exercise calm and restraint after a Burundian general announced he had deposed President Pierre Nkurunziza for seeking an unconstitutional third term.

The major general says he's forming a transitional government after more than three weeks of protests against Nkurunziza's re-election bid.

At least 20 people have been killed in the uprising.

Confusion reigns in Bujumbura where an army General Godefroid Niyombare says he's sacked the president, but his spokesperson Willy Nyamitwe insists the coup has failed.

East African leaders are in no doubt there's been a coup.

They'd planned to discuss Nkurunziza's determination to seek an unconstitutional third term as president.

Now they have to respond to Burundi's military saying it's been forced to take control because of Nkurunziza's unacceptable behaviour.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is at the EAC summit along with senior envoys from the European Union, United States and United Nations.

Earlier, a Burundi army general said he had sacked Nkurunziza as president for seeking an unconstitutional third term in office, and was working with civil society groups to form a transitional government.

The presidential office quickly rubbished the declaration by Niyombare, who was fired by Nkurunziza as intelligence chief in February.

"We consider it as a joke not as a military coup," presidential aide Willy Niyamitwe told Reuters.

But crowds of people streamed onto the streets of Burundi's capital, cheering and singing, after the announcement and soldiers surrounded the state broadcaster building.

At the same time, the White House has joined calls from East African leaders and the United Nations for fighting parties in Burundi to lay down their arms and show restraint.