Category archives for: Burundi

Burundi Political Parties, Civil Societies and Youths Plead for Dialogue Acceleration

By Diane Uwimana

A briefing session for registered civil societies, religious groups, youths, women and other parties and political actors that were not invited in February 2017 is scheduled from 3 to 5 May in the capital Bujumbura. All the groups say they expect much from the consultations.

“The facilitator must accept that the dialogue process be accelerated so that Burundians can move forward and prepare for the 2020 elections”, says Gilbert Bécaud Njangwa, Chairman of the National Observatory of Elections and Organizations for Progress-ONELOP.

He also says the facilitation should convince the EAC Heads of State to demonstrate their commitment to the resolution of the conflict existing between Burundi and Rwanda. “It would be better if the facilitation agrees that Rwanda is always involved in the destabilization of the country’s security. All political parties and Civil Society organizations should also be invited to the next round of talks to express their opinions and considerations”, he says.

The same view is shared by Eraste Nzosaba, Chairman of National Youth Council. “This dialogue process should be speeded up so that Burundians move forward in their daily activities”, he says.

He also says youths hope that their claims including the consolidation of peace and security, fight against unemployment and their involvement in decision making will be discussed during the dialogue sessions. “We wish that the inclusive dialogue be held in the country and refugees be repatriated”, he says.

The Facilitation needs to identify the conflicting parties

“We do not expect much from the briefing session” says Eric Nkenguburundi, spokesperson for MRC-Rurenzangemero party.

He says the consultation sessions are taking much time. “We are still in a consultation phase instead of starting the negotiation phase itself”, he says. Nkenguburundi also says the opposition is anxious because the EAC Heads of State haven’t yet held a summit to make decisions which would force the government and ruling party to engage in the inclusive dialogue.

Jérémie Ngendakumana, Spokesperson for the platform of opposition parties-CNARED, says it is a good thing that the facilitation team has invited the groups it hasn’t met in recent sessions. “It will be a good opportunity for participants to express their opinions and considerations on the management of the current crisis and how it should be ended”, says Ngendakumana.

He, however, says the facilitation has not met with all civil society organizations, youth, women and the opposition in exile i.e. all those opposed to the third term. “The facilitator must meet them and consider their opinions”, he says.

In addition, he says, if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs identifies these groups, it means it will select those who support the government. “CNARED must identify the organizations of youth, women and political parties that are opposed to the third term to meet the facilitation in a safe place”, he says.

Ngendakumana says the facilitation will only be able to identify all the conflicting parties involved in the Burundian crisis if it meets all these people.

Macocha Moshe Tembele, Personal Assistant to Mkapa, former Tanzanian President and Facilitator in the Inter-Burundian dialogue, says the objective of this session is to present the proposal for their consideration, receive their opinions on the same and appraise them in the programs of the events leading to the fourth session of the inter-Burundian dialogue.

Fuel Shortage Adds to Burundi’s Woes

By Moses Havyarimana

As Burundi marks two years of political crisis, the economy has been wobbling and now a two-week fuel shortage is threatening to worsen the situation.

Daniel Mpitabakana, director in charge of petroleum in Burundi’s Ministry of Energy and Mines, attributed the crisis to “a technical problem at the Burundi Revenue Authority.”

Another source said that fuel importers have run short of foreign currency to buy fuel, hence the shortage.

Burundi’s economy has taken a beating since President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a controversial third term in 2015. The European Union and the US suspended direct aid to Bujumbura, which accounts for almost half of the country’s annual budget.

According to the World Bank figures, inflation for the first quarter of this year is at a 8.7 per cent ceiling, compared to 5.5 per cent in 2016. Economists forecast it to soar to double digits this year.

The GDP contracted by 0.6 per cent in 2016, an improvement from the 3.9 per cent contraction in 2015. The GDP was last recorded in 2015 at $3.097 billion with recorded growth of -0.6 per cent in 2016. The 2017 forecast is not more than 1.5 per cent.

According to the World Bank poverty is expected to rise by 83 per cent in 2018-19. As 90 per cent of the population heavily relies on agriculture, the prolonged dry spell has negatively impacted the production of food.

Burundi has, since last year, ceased to export food to neighbouring countries, specifically to Rwanda, citing growing food insecurity in the country.

The World Food Programme reported that at least 3 million Burundians are in urgent need of food relief.

Burundi

CNC – ‘Media Persons Work Without Professional Card’

Burundi Media Regulator-CNC has released its 2016 annual report on the World Press Freedom this 3 May 2017. It admits… Read more »

President Nkurunziza Chastises Burundi’s Ruling Elite

By Innocent Habonimana

In a rare moment of passion, the president reminded his audience that the nation comes before the party and criticised them for failing to put Burundi first.

President Nkurunziza has chastised some of the top members of his party for malpractice and told them to act in a way that is consistent with what is expected of a nation’s leaders.

On Thursday afternoon, the president participated in a thanksgiving mass his CNDD- FDD party had organized to celebrate the survival in the face of strong opposition during and after the 2015 election campaign. Elite members of the CNDD-FDD party gathered at the national party’s headquarters in Bujumbura. President Nkurunziza was among the personalities scheduled to speak.

The president emphasized that his third term was dedicated to God and criticised the behaviour of his ruling elite. “It is us who are held accountable for whatever happens in the country: the problems of water or drought, or flood or fraud or corruption call us to give account for them,” he said. But “those who take second wives, those who separate spouses, those who make school children pregnant, those who steal medicines are among you,” he said.

Nkurunziza used his speech to tell a recent story about a person to whom he had given construction materials. The unnamed person then attempted to illicitly acquire the sole property of two orphans to build his house.

“It’s likely that people who act like that are among you here,” he said.

“True religion looks after orphans and widows. But you oppress them,” he said, in his sermon-like speech.

“There are things God does not want us to do,” he said. “Let’s show the people who voted for us that we deserved it!”

He went on to criticize those who do not obey orders, those who steal, and those who are involved in the illegal trafficking of coffee and minerals such as coltan.

“When we tell someone ‘it’s forbidden to give yourself more money or other things’, we later find out that he stealthily tripled what he gives himself,” said the president.

“We take the decision to stop the illegal trafficking [of mineral and coffee], but we are surprised to find that those we catch are Abagumyabanga [members of CNDD-FDD],” he said.

Léonidas Hatungimana, the exiled former spokesman for President Nkurunziza who disagreed with his third term, says there are positive aspects of what the president has said, but he does not hope for any effect.

“What he said will not bring about positive change amongst his top leaders, because those he was talking to know he himself does not keep his word,” he says.

As in illustration, Hatungimana says the President had promised national party leaders that he would not act against the constitution and seek a third term, but he did not keep the promise.

“When his attempt to have the constitution changed failed, he should have kept his promise and stepped down. But he didn’t,” he says.

Hatungimana says that the president just wanted to look like he was taking some action. He says the president’s words are similar to his zero tolerance policy (2010), and the promise of setting up a toll-free number for the public to report any act of corruption: promises that remained unfulfilled.

Tatien Sibomana, another political opponent, says, “it’s not the President’s lamentations that matter to Burundians. It’s rather actions to fight the problems.” Actually addressing the problems is “obviously far from being the preoccupation of men and women in the government,” he says.

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 »

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