Category archives for: Burundi

My Life Is in Danger, Says Opposition Leader

By Moses Havyarimana

Burundi’s main opposition leader and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Agathon Rwasa has claimed his life is in danger following attacks of several of his supporters by unknown people.

He said the attacks and a plot to assassinate him are linked to the coming elections in 2020.

Mr Rwasa pointed an accusing finger at members of the ruling party, Council for the Defence of Democracy – Forces for the Restoration of Democracy, CNDD-FDD, and the police.

Mr Rwasa is one of the few opposition leaders who have remained critical of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government. Several of his supporters have lately been killed and others kidnapped and he says these incidents have left him fearing for his life. But the government has dismissed the claims, saying he had not even made an official complaint.

“We suppose that he is well protected by the police and the army because he hasn’t yet reported any abnormal situation of his security,” said Burundi police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye.Video footage surfaced on social media showing the ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure jogging while chanting that they would “impregnate” opposition members so as they “could give birth to Imbonerakure.”

The video stirred up reactions from the international community, with the latest condemnation coming from the UN human rights office.

“The grotesque rape chants by the young men are deeply alarming, particularly because they confirm what we have been hearing from those who have fled Burundi about a campaign of fear and terror by this organised militia,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.The ruling party condemned the Imbonerakure, saying it was contrary to the “rules and the mission of the party.”

“CNDD-FDD condemns the use of that language and the disciplinary commission is investigating and whoever involved will be sanctioned,” a statement read from the ruling party.

Efforts have been made by the East African Community to put an end to the political crisis that continued to dog the country since 2015, although the regional mediated dialogue under the facilitation of former Tanzania president Benjamin Mkapa is yet to produce tangible results.

“We had said this before and we will continue saying it that the Burundi government will not sit on the same table with the coup plotters… they only have to face justice,” said Will Nyamitwe, special ambassador of Burundi.

As the country steadily gains stability and the focus turns to the 2020 general elections, the ruling party CNDD-FDD is said to still have the upper hand. The absence of main opposition leaders and weak opposition justifies the dominance of CNDD-FDD.

The intra-Burundi dialogue commission (CNDI) released a report on the findings in the six-month period on what could restore peace.

According to the findings, Burundians called on their lawmakers to scrap term limits that can see the incumbent stay in power.

Burundi is relatively gaining stability after the violent protests in 2015 that led to more than 500 people losing their lives. The country’s Constitution has been at the centerstage of the political crisis the country has faced since the 2015 polls.

Burundi

Burundi Still Unsafe for Refugees Return, Says Uganda

Burundi is not yet safe for the return of its nationals who sought refuge in neighbouring countries, says Uganda’s… Read more »

Malaria Still an Epidemic in Burundi

By Innocent Habonimana

The situation of malaria still calls for more control actions a month after the disease was declared an epidemic on 13 March by the Ministry of public Health.

Dionise Nizigiyimana, the Director of the National Integrated Programme for the Fight against Malaria (PNILP) says “though, nationally, its registered cases tend downwards, malaria is still an epidemic on the 15th week of 2017”.

He says that 2,745,417 cases of malaria have been registered by the 15th week of 2017.

Critical situation is mainly faced by northern, eastern and southern regions of Burundi that are still beyond the epidemic threshold.

In some of the provinces of the regions such as Kirundo, Cankuzo and Karuzi, the prevalence rate is beyond 100 per cent.

Nizigiyimana says, the cases of malaria have remarkably diminished in the province of Ngozi where piloting study of the efficiency of indoor residual spraying was carried out in two health districts.

Burundi

My Life Is in Danger, Says Opposition Leader

Burundi’s main opposition leader and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Agathon Rwasa has claimed his life is in danger… Read more »

No Media Freedom in Burundi, Reporters Without Borders Says

By Lorraine Josiane Manishatse

Reporters without Borders (RSF) ranks Burundi the 160th out of 180 countries in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index. RSF says the country was the 156th in 2016. It is ranked behind all the East African Community countries.

The situation in Burundi has become more and more complex since the outbreak of the 2015 crisis. The main independent radio stations have remained closed since the May 2015 coup attempt, according to RSF report. On 14 May, on the eve of the coup against President Pierre Nkurunziza, five media were destroyed. Two of them namely Isanganiro and Rema FM were allowed to reopen. The three remaining others which are Bonesha FM, Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) and Télévision Renaissance are still closed.

RSF says new government propaganda media outlets have been created. This NGO says Burundian Journalists find it hard to work freely and are often harassed by security forces encouraged by an official discourse associating non-aligned media with enemies of the nation. The journalist Jean Bigirimana’s disappearance in July 2016 has still not been solved, says RSF.

Innocent Muhozi , Chairman of the Burundian Press Watchdog (OPB) says, it is not surprising that Burundi moved from its 156 in 2016 to 160 in the 2017 ranking by RSF in terms of press freedom. “Media freedom is not possible when the right to life and the fundamental human rights are violated,” says Muhozi.

Gabriel Bihumugani, Deputy Chairman of the Burundi’s media regulator (CNC) dismisses RSF report. He says it was written on the basis of false information. “RSF only considered the events of 2015 and the disappearance of Jean Bigirimana, journalist at Iwacu Press Group.” Burundi journalists are not ill-treated,” he says.

Bihumugani says the press regulator left no stone unturned to find Jean Bigirimana but in vain. “CNC urges competent authorities to give clarification on the journalist’s disappearance”, Bihumugani says. He says CNC is doing its best to guarantee press freedom.

Burundi

My Life Is in Danger, Says Opposition Leader

Burundi’s main opposition leader and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Agathon Rwasa has claimed his life is in danger… Read more »

Fuel Shortage Far From Being Worked Out in Burundi

By Diane Uwimana

Long queues of cars, motorcycles and people who have cans, wait for hours at the few stations that are open. City oil and Kingstar stations from the southern to northern neighborhoods in the capital Bujumbura are providing fuel. “I have spent four days looking for fuel but in vain”, says a taxi-driver. He also says he and his family will die of hunger if nothing is done. “I cannot afford food for my family if the shortage of fuel persists”, says another driver met at Kinindo City Oil station in southern Bujumbura.

Many vehicles and motorcycles are empty of fuel. Cans could be seen on the long queues. However, their owners have not been served like others and started complaining about the unfair supply of fuel. “Those who have cans should put them aside, they have no right to be served”, says a police officer trying to supervise fuel distribution at Kinindo City Oil.

Many of the oil stations in Bujumbura city were dry. Engen, Mogas and Kobil branches operating in Burundi have no fuel due to the lack of foreign currency. “It’s been a couple of days we are not working. We don’t know the day we will receive the foreign currency to resume the supply of fuel”, says an agent of Mogas branch.

During the plenary session in the National Assembly on 25 April, Côme Manirakiza,Minister of Energy and Mines said shortage of fuel in the capital Bujumbura and the countryside is due to the lack of foreign currency. He, however, said the administration, the police and the ministry must work together to avoid any speculation from oil tankers.

“Sanctions should be imposed on fuel managers who may distribute fuel in cans or try to raise the price”, says the Minister.

However, over the last week, the Ministry of Energy and Mines said the shortage of fuel earlier was due to a “technical breakdown” that interrupted clearance processes within the Burundi Revenue Authority (OBR), an allegation the Authority denies. OBR dismissed the claim saying it “is not aware of any connection breakdown”.

Burundi

My Life Is in Danger, Says Opposition Leader

Burundi’s main opposition leader and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Agathon Rwasa has claimed his life is in danger… Read more »

EAC Secretariat Remains Impartial On Burundi

opinion

The East African Community Secretariat has noted with concern an opinion article titled, Mfumukeko and EAC Summit have failed the test of impartiality on Burundi crisis, published in the April 22 -28, 2017 edition of The EastAfrican newspaper.

The writer, Mr Wachira Maina, imputes possible bias on the part of the Summit of the EAC Heads of State and the EAC Secretary-General, Mr Liberat Mfumukeko, in the ongoing Inter-Burundi Dialogue whose facilitator is former Tanzanian President Benjamin William Mkapa.

To set the record straight, the EAC remains an impartial arbiter in the Inter-Burundi Dialogue. The Community is prepared to work with all stakeholders in a structured manner to ensure the success and lasting peace in Burundi and the East African region.

The EAC Secretary-General never dismissed the report of the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Conflict Prevention, Mr Jamal Benomar, to the UN Security Council. Rather, he only stated that the EAC Secretariat did not participate in the preparation of the said report.

It is therefore not clear how the SG’s clarification on the matter draws the EAC into Burundi’s alleged quarrels with the UN as the writer claims.

The EAC Heads of State Summit, at their 17th Ordinary Meeting, affirmed that Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni was the mediator for the Inter-Burundi Dialogue. The Summit also appointed a team under Mr Mkapa, as the facilitator of the mediation.

Mr Maina is therefore right to say that the EAC is actively mediating the Burundi peace. However, he misses the point when he claims that the “EAC is also partnering with the African Union and the UN in a joint technical working group on the conflict”.

The Secretariat wishes to make it clear that no ‘joint technical working group’ has formally been established so far between the EAC, AU and UN. However, the EAC, AU and UN are in consultations to set up a joint mechanism for the dialogue.

The EAC Secretary-General has not, at any time, spoken on behalf of the Burundi government as the writer claims. Mr Mfumukeko has since his appointment as EAC Secretary-General never commented on the relationship between the government and the opposition groups and on the security situation. It is therefore inaccurate for the writer to insinuate that the Secretary-General is receiving instructions from any partner state.

Prior to his appointment, Mr Mfumukeko was a high ranking bureaucrat in the government of Burundi. It is worth noting that all previous secretaries-general have served at the apex levels of their governments back home.

As to why Burundi was allowed to nominate a Secretary-General to the Community, the writer would do himself some justice by reading the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC in full. Article 66 provides that the

Secretary-General shall be appointed by the Summit upon nomination by the relevant head of state under the principle of rotation. The Secretary-General shall serve for a fixed term of five years.

The writer acknowledges that he was not clear what the Secretary-General’s alleged criticism of Mr Benomar’s report to the UN Security Council was all about. It would be in the best interests of the writer’s audience if he had carried out proper background research on what the Secretary-General actually said.

The Burundi Dialogue is not a lost cause as the writer implies. No one dreamed it would be a walk in the park, given the country’s chequered history. The EAC Secretariat has and will continue to provide moral and material support to the facilitator.

We trust that the Dialogue will result in a genuine and lasting for the people of Burundi.

East Africa

Renowned Astrophysicist Dies

Addis Standard has just confirmed that Dr. Legesse Wetro, renowned Astrophysicist & founder of Ethiopian Space… Read more »

Four Burundian Hostages Released After Over Two Weeks in Congo

By Innocent Habonimana

Four victims of kidnapping have been released after 17 days of detention in the DR Congo. Their kidnappers claimed they were rebels. One of the four hostages says they don’t know how their release was negotiated.

Four Burundian hostages have been freed by their kidnappers who kept them in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for more than two weeks.

One of the hostages Mathias Mujuriro interviewed by Iwacu after their release, says, after their kidnapping from a bus in Gatumba near the border with DR Congo in the evening of 9 April, they were taken deep into to the neighbouring country.

“We walked from 9 pm to 9h30 am [of the following day]”, he says.

Mujuriro was kidnapped along with Pierre Butoyi from the central province of Muramvya, Father Ntahondereye Adolphe from the rural district of Kabezi in Bujumbura province, and Ramadhan Barakamfitiye from Buyenzi area in Bujumbura city.

Mujuriro says the kidnappers fed them and did not torture them. However, they blindfolded them and bound their arms all the time they spent there. He and the priest managed to bring the hoods they were blindfolded with.

At their release, their feet were swollen and bruised because the kidnappers took their shoes and made them walk barefoot all the time. The priest could not walk; they carried him all the times they moved.

The kidnappers took money and everything else the hostages had. The priest was, however, given his phone back when they were released.

Butoyi was the youngest. The others were elderly. The kidnappers made him carry a sack of rice in the hills of the DR Congo. They claimed they were rebels. They beat him after he refused their proposal to join them.

Mujuriro says the kidnappers accused him and the priest of working with the ruling party’s youth wing Imbonerakure. He was reserved when asked for details about the kidnappers. “I was blindfolded for all the 17 days I spent with them. I didn’t see anything. I couldn’t recognize anyone”, he says.

Kidnapped for ransom?

He confirms reports that the kidnappers asked for ransom. “They threatened to kill us if we didn’t give them money”, says Mujuriro. “So we informed our families. It would have been like suicide if we had died [for not paying the ransom].

He says he and the other hostages didn’t know how their release was negotiated afterwards. “We just heard [on Monday] they would free us yesterday”, he says. “I am thankful to God and those who worked for our release”.

“We left where we were held at 4 pm [on Monday] and reached the border where the kidnappers left us at 1a.m.”.

Mujuriro and his friends were then found by Burundian troops near the border. Pierre Nkurikiye, Spokesman for the

Police, says they were interrogated and then allowed to go back to their families.

Mathieu Sake, a human rights activist who went to see the hostages while they were still held at the army camp, says the four hostages and others who suffer similar fate, are victims of the political crisis that started in 2015.

He says politicians who have things to demand shouldn’t victimize the population.

Sake, the Chairman of ACPDH (a human rights organisation) calls on security forces to be very watchful because “people near the border with DR Congo are always worried something bad like being kidnapped might happen to them anytime”.

Japanese Government Assistance Intended for Cankuzo Malnourished People

By Diane Uwimana

In March 2017, the Japanese government granted US $ 2,837,000 financial support to three UN agencies (UNDP-UNICEF-WFP) to be used in youth employment, water and sanitation as well as fight against malnutrition.

Nicole Jacquet, the Deputy Country Director of the World Food Program, says Cankuzo eastern Province, has the highest rates of food insecurity and chronic malnutrition in Burundi estimated at 56.4% and 57%, respectively. “The acute malnutrition rate is also among the highest rates with a prevalence of about 17% in that province”, she says.

With the Japanese financial contribution, the WFP is considering providing nutritional assistance to 29,000 children under five and 4,200 pregnant and lactating women. This project aims to contribute to the reduction of mortality and morbidity due to malnutrition.

“The funding of $ 1.466 million is used for 33,200 cases of moderate acute malnutrition expected in Cankuzo province and to implement a community-based malnutrition prevention system”, says Nicole Jacquet.

Malnutrition and poor hygiene to infant and child diseases are preventable, according to M. BO. Viktor Nylund, UNICEF representative in Burundi.

“UNICEF expects in 2017 that amongst children under 5, some 50,000 children will need treatment because of severe acute malnutrition in Burundi”, he says. He also says these malnourished children need adequate treatment and psycho-social support.

For this project, the Japanese government has granted US $ 636,000 to UNICEF Burundi for interventions in child survival in Burundi. About 115,000 people will benefit from drinking water and adequate sanitation.

The UNDP received US $ 741, 000 for 900 young women and men to create small enterprises and contribute to the community development.

“Social stability in the region is one of the priorities of Japanese government, which has decided to provide support to the vulnerable youth of Burundi”, says Takayuki Miyashita, Ambassador of Japan to Burundi.

Japan’s development cooperation with Burundi started in the 1970s. Since then, Japan has provided more than US $ 300 million to assist Burundi, particularly directed to transport, agriculture and basic social services, including education and health care.

Burundi

Call for Defining Role of Parties in Burundi Talks Process

East African Community (EAC) Secretary-General Liberat Mfumukeko says all parties involved in the Burundi peace process… Read more »

Michel Kafando, Nominated New UNSG Special Representative in Burundi

By Lorraine Josiane Manishatse

Burundi Government accepts the proposal by the UN Secretary General (UNSG) to replace Jamal Benomar, his special advisor on the Burundian conflict, by Michel Kafando.

Alain Diomède Nzeyimana, Deputy Spokesman for Burundi President, says the Presidential Office has received a letter from the UN Secretary General nominating Michel Kafando, the former chairman of interim government in Burkina Faso, to replace Jamal Benomar, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the resolution of Burundi conflict. “However, we have not yet received a letter confirming his appointment,” Nzeyimana says.

He says the government of Burundi has given the green light. “The government could not oppose the appointment of that person. He is a veteran in diplomacy and international relations. We hope that he will accomplish his mission,” says the deputy spokesman for the Burundian President.

“He has the mission to restore peace and security in Burundi”

“We welcome the nomination of the former chairman of the interim government in Burkina Faso to be the new UN Special Representative in Burundi. The fact that the people of Burkina Faso entrusted him to lead the interim government after President Blaise Compaoré fled the country following the popular insurrection, shows that he is trustworthy, “says Tatien Sibomana, a political opponent. For him, Kafando has honored his promise to the people of Burkina Faso by organizing a credible and transparent general election.

He says that this diplomat played a prominent role in restoring the rule of law in Burkina Faso. “Africa needs people who keep their promises like him,” Sibomana says.

Kafando will replace the Moroccan Jamar Benomar, whom the Government of Burundi had challenged. It accused him of producing biased reports on Burundi. According to Sibomana, Burundi is experiencing a political crisis caused by President Nkurunziza’s desire to seek a third illegal and unconstitutional term. These UN representatives come to Burundi with a special mission to observe the situation prevailing in the country in order to produce reports that they submit to the UNSG.

This opposition politician says Kafando may also be challenged like his predecessor. He says the Burundian government does not accept a diplomat who dares to denounce the crimes committed in Burundi.

“I would like to warn this new UNSG representative to avoid being manipulated by the Government of Burundi and be impartial by listening to all parties to know the real situation prevailing in Burundi,” says Sibomana.

He also says the UN, which is responsible for ensuring peace and security, should implement all the resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council on Burundi and compel the Government of Burundi to effectively take part in inclusive dialogue.

Burundi

Rights Defenders Call On Protest Against Human Rights Violations

Exiled activists organise demonstrations against alarming rights violations; an idea that is not shared by activists… Read more »

Rights Defenders Call On Protest Against Human Rights Violations

By Innocent Habonimana

Exiled activists organise demonstrations against alarming rights violations; an idea that is not shared by activists living in Burundi.

A number of civil society organisations have called on Burundians in exile to protest against new waves of extra-judiciary executions and forced disappearances.

“We call on all Burundians especially those living abroad to start protesting from 26 April”, says Mbonimpa, the exiled President of the now-banned APRODH, an organisation fighting for human and prisoners’ rights.

The protests aims at claiming “justice for crimes committed in Burundi since the protest against the illegal and unconstitutional third term of Pierre Nkurunziza”, says Armel Niyongere, President of the Christian Action for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT).

Civil society organisations that opposed President Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in April 2015 say human rights violations that ensued are alarming.

Over the last week-end alone, four people were reportedly killed. One of the victims was reported murdered in cold blood by a military officer.

APRODH says at least 2,000 people have been killed since 2015 while 8,000 have been jailed. Contradictory figures by the National Independent Commission for Human Rights (CNIDH) show 720 deaths and 80 cases of torture.

Mbonimpa says such a situation of human rights abuse is damning to the government of Burundi.

He says things “have exceeded limits. That’s why we continually call on the international community to go and see what’s happening in Burundi”.

The organizers of the protests say Burundians living in the country cannot take part in the protest for fear of being killed.

Support and opposition

A number of political opponents residing in Burundi express their support for the protests. Léonce Ngendakumana, the vice-president of the opposition party Frodebu, says “seeing the situation [of despair] in which we are, it’s high time we stood against it”.

Tatien Sibomana of Uprona party says protesting against violations of human rights in Burundi is both a legal and moral duty that should attract the participation of every sensible person. “Even sensible foreigners should take part in the protests”, he says.

The politicians decry the denial of the right to free speech to certain people. Ngendakumana says there is a double standard in regard to the right to demonstrate. He says some are forbidden by the governing authority to mourn theirs whereas others are allowed to organized demonstrations secured by armed forces.

Sibomana says “those who seek to justify the crimes are allowed to demonstrate whenever they wish. But those who want to protest against crimes are reduced to silence”.

Venant Hamza Burikukiye, the Legal Representative of CAPES+, calls for a counter-protest. He says “real Burundian patriots and foreigners who are friends of Burundi and who are against the planned protests should organize a counter-protest”.

He says the protests organized by those who misled the youth into participating in the “insurrection” of 2015 in which they lost their lives have no good purpose. Moreover, nothing shows the government has committed the abuses they want to protest against.

As for the claim that some people are not allowed to protest, he says “insurrection and demonstration are two different things”.

Bécaud Njangwa, president of ONELOP, a local civil society organisation, says the organizers of the protests “have a grudge against the government the reason why they try to show that the situation in Burundi is at its worst”.

He recognizes the existence of human rights violations, but opposes putting the blame on the government.”Neutral and impartial investigations alone will reveal those who are responsible for the crimes”, he says.

He opposes the protests saying that demonstrating means accusing the government of the violations.

Instead, he says, the organizers of the protests should sit together with the different institutions of the government to discuss and try to find a sustainable solution to the problem.

Four People Killed On Weekend in Burundi

By Diane Uwimana

In the early morning of 24 April, sounds of gunshots were heard in Kigobe neighborhood of Ntahangwa Commune in the capital Bujumbura. “The police officer was pursuing a “tuk-tuk” driver who was trying to escape.

Instead of stopping, he rather tried to run away and the police officer shot in the air trying to stop him. The policeman has been arrested for investigation”, says Pierre Nkurikiye, the police spokesperson.

Pierre Nkurikiye also says shootings were also heard in Kanyosha neighborhood in the south of the Burundian capital. “it was around midnight past twenty minutes when a police officer shot in the air trying to prevent robbers from stealing a house of the locality”, he says.

In the evening of 22 April, Jean Claude Bashirahishize, a resident of Rukina zone in Mukike Commune of Bujumbura Province was shot dead by soldiers from the Ruhororo military position.

Séverin Ndayizeye, the local chief said the young man was shot when he was trying to escape from the soldiers when they were controlling identity cards of the passengers. Gaspard Baratuza, Spokesman for the Burundian army also confirms the information that the young man was shot dead as he was trying to escape.

On 23 April, a dead body of Asmane Nduwimana, a driver and resident of Buterere neighborhood was discovered in Kanyosha southern area of the capital Bujumbura. “His “probox” type vehicle was stolen by unknown people”, says the police spokesman.

One woman on Musenyi hill of Cankuzo Eastern province and another one from Taba hill of Songa Commune in Bururi southern province were also killed by unknown people on 23 April. One person was arrested in each of the two localities for investigation.

Jean Baptiste Nsabimana, a human rights activist says 10 bodies have been identified. He also says cases of disappearances (14), torture (22) and arbitrary arrests (166) have been reported in different parts of the country from 1 to 23 April 2017.

Burundi

Pro-Government People Protest Against UN Human Rights Commission Report On Burundi

Communication officer within the ruling CNDD-FDD launched a campaign to protest the UN High Commissioner for Human… Read more »

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