Posts tagged as: burundians

Catholic Bishops Call for Inclusive Dialogue

By Lorraine Josiane Manishatse

In a communiqué released on 10 September, Burundian catholic bishops call on Burundians to engage in an inclusive dialogue for the great interests of the nation to prevent war.

“We would once again insist on the inclusive dialogue that must be prioritized for the great interest of the nation for blocking the way to all those who opt for the path of war,” Burundi catholic bishops said.

They said Burundians have suffered so much from war casualties and no responsible citizen can accept that the country plunges once again into war. “Everyone knows that disagreements between politicians have resulted in mutual exclusion, killings and assassinations,” they said.

They also said this situation has forced many Burundians to flee the country to neighboring countries where they live in terrible conditions. “Among them there are politicians, law enforcement and security officials, economic operators and leaders of various civil society organizations,” they said.

Bishops said that Burundians cannot work together to build their homeland together since some are forced to stay abroad. They called on all Burundians to join their forces to build a better country. “Those who are in power or those who seek to conquer it and ever all Burundians are like travelers who share the same road.

Everyone needs the contribution of the other, “according to the bishops of the catholic church in Burundi.

They said they fear if the inter-Burundian- dialogue is delayed, the problems the country is facing will become more complicated.

On 6 September , Burundian Ombudsman, Edouard Nduwimana announced that the last round of the inter-Burundian dialogue of Arusha, led by former Tanzanian President, William Benjamin Mkapa will be held by October. He said the people prosecuted in Burundi will not be invited to this peace talks.

Burundi has plunged into a violent political crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced a controversial run for a third term, which he won in contested elections in July 2015. Since then, a dialogue between the Burundi Government and the opposition has been demanded by the UN, AU, EU, EAC and other partners to restore peace. A proper dialogue never took off. A series of meetings organized by the EAC that Burundi’s leaders committed to -but failed to attend- initially.


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Officials Should Be Tried for ‘Crimes Against Humanity’ – UN Commission

Geneva — Burundians “at the highest level of the state” and in its security services should face trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, a UN panel investigating more than two years of human rights abuses in the central African state said today.

The three-member Commission of Enquiry said it had “reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed and continue to be committed in Burundi since April 2015.”

The violent political crisis, sparked when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would run for a third term in office, has been marked by a heavy-handed crackdown by security forces on street protests. It has all but extinguished hopes that Burundi will embrace a peaceful democratic transition in the wake of a civil war that cost some 300,000 lives between 1993 and 2006.

“These crimes are taking place in a context of serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, sexual violence, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and enforced disappearances,” the commission, created by the Human Rights Council, said in a statement accompanying its final report.

The report said rights to association, freedom of movement, as well as an independent media had been stifled: Opposition parties could not meet or act freely, their members were under constant pressure, and a large number had been arrested tortured or killed.

The result of three months of investigations and 500 interviews, the report did not name names, but the commission has drawn up a confidential list of suspects.

The abuses are attributed to the government’s army, the police and the security services, as well as the paramilitary youth wing of the ruling party, known as the Imbonerakure.

Burundi’s national intelligence service (SNR) and the Burundian National Police were cited in a large number of the witness statements as the principle perpetrators.

“[The SNR agents] accused me of being a rebel,” one witness said. “Behind me, an [SNR agent] was interrogating another detainee… . He received a bullet in the leg and was bleeding. The [SNR] agents beat him as if he was a snake while he was bleeding… [The SNR agent] who was interrogating me said: ‘You see, you do not have enough strength to resist that. You are going to die if you do not admit what you know.”

The commission also documented several cases of sexual violence, including rapes, sometimes of women in front of their loved ones. Men were also victims of rape; others tortured sexually.

“They beat me many times in the genitals,” one man said. “They told me to bend over, arms level with my knees, and kicked me in the genitals. Because of the blows inflicted, I haven’t been able to have sexual relations since… It’s like I’ve become impotent.”

The commission’s president, Fatsah Ouguergouz, said: “We were struck by the scale and the brutality of the violations. We also noted a lack of will on the part of the Burundian authorities to fight against impunity and guarantee the independence of the judiciary. As a result, there is a strong likelihood that the perpetrators of these crimes will remain unpunished.”

In April 2016, the ICC announced it had launched a “preliminary examination” of the situation in Burundi – at the time more than 430 people had reportedly been killed. This ongoing step, which under ICC procedures determines whether a full investigation should take place, focuses on “killing, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as cases of enforced disappearances that have been allegedly committed since April 2015.”

In October 2016, Nkurunziza signed legislation calling for Burundi’s withdrawal from the ICC, notification of which was later that month sent to the UN secretary general. Under the Rome Statute, actual withdrawal takes place a year after such notification.

But under the statute, specifically article 127, a state’s withdrawal does not end its obligation to cooperate with the ICC on issues that were under the court’s consideration before that withdrawal, nor does it oblige the ICC to stop its work on that country.

The Burundian government rejects the commission and did not allow members to visit the country. Interviews were conducted in neighbouring countries, to where hundreds of thousands of Burundians have fled since 2015.

On 1 September, Burundi’s parliament announced it would set up its own commission, made up of 12 lawmakers, to look into the UN commission’s findings.

The UN commission’s call for ICC prosecutions comes days after an armed rebel group, the Burundi Popular Forces (an offshoot of FOREBU), warned it would step up attacks to pressure Nkurunziza to join inclusive mediated talks with the opposition in neighbouring Tanzania.

“Renewed talks had been envisioned for the end of July, but that time has come and gone without any progress,” commented Dominique Fraser, a research analyst at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.

“It’s unclear how much power and influence [FOREBU] actually wield, but an escalation of violence would likely spell trouble for Burundi and could heighten the risk of mass atrocities,” Fraser told IRIN.

Thijs Van Laer, programme manager at the International Refugee Rights Initiative, agreed, warning that any renewed violence “could be followed by repression by the Burundian government”.

“Real regional pressure on the Burundian government is the preferred option, as it could prevent such renewed open violence and repression, potentially followed by a new increase in ongoing refugee flows,” he added.

“Currently, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are putting all their eggs in the basked of mediation by former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, without really pressuring Nkurunziza to participate in it,” Van Laer said.

“They should increase pressure on government and opposition, not just to participate in talks, but also to halt abuses against political opponents and common citizens, and to support real accountability for crimes.”

According to Alex Fielding, a risk and crisis management consultant with 4C Strategies and a freelance analyst on African affairs, “violence hasn’t ‘forced’ the government into negotiations in the past.

“Only serious UN-backed, regional pressure led by countries like South Africa, with a credible military threat, will force Nkurunziza’s hand, something that looks unlikely at the moment.”

Price of Technical Inspection of Vehicles to Be Increased

By Diane Uwimana

Public Transport Office [OTRACO] has announced that the price of the technical inspection of vehicles will increase from September 1st. Vehicles owners and drivers speak of an unjust measure.

Following the recent measure taken by OTRACO, the price for the technical control of public transport vehicles will go from BIF 11, 500 to BIF 35, 000. For private cars, the price will move from BIF 8,100 to 50,000 while the control will cost BIF 10,000 against BIF2,000 for motorbikes. The measure will come into force from September 1st this year.

Vehicle users say the measure is unjust. “This measure imposed by OTRACO didn’t go down well with us given that we had paid other taxes before”, says a driver met in Bujumbura city center. He was referring to the recent measure by Bujumbura Mayor that compels public parking users to pay taxes. He says they pay BIF 21,000 per month.

Another driver says the measure is unfair given that that transportation costs remain unchanged. “This measure comes to worsen the situation as we live in dire straits. We will operate at a loss”, he says.

In a note issued by OTRACO, the measure comes as a harmonization with the EAC partner states. Vehicle users say, however, that Burundi still lags behind other countries in terms of development. “It is not a good thing to compare Burundi with other EAC partner states given that the purchasing power and the cost of living are not the same”, says N.N ,a private car owner.

“We conform to the government project”

Albert Maniratunga, Director General of Public Transport Office (OTRACO) says the measure to increase the price of the technical inspection of vehicles results from the determination of the Head of State who encourages semi-public companies to avoid operating at loss. “Vehicle users will have to pay the inspection cost”.

He also says the measure has been approved by the board of the directors of the office and the Minister of Public Transportation as well. “We must increase our income given that we lost BIF 4,800 for each card delivered at BIF 8,100. It is a net loss in comparison with other EAC member states”, he says.

For the Director General, OTRACO must adapt to the EAC protocol. “We must do whatever it takes to avoid always lagging behind others”, he says.

Albert Maniratunga believes the rise in price has nothing to do with the purchasing power within the EAC partner states. “Those who think like that want to plunge the country into the abyss”, he says.

Gabriel Rufyiri, Chairman of OLUCOME, a local NGO involved in the fight against embezzlement and corruption, says the technical control for private cars, vans and others was increased three years ago. It cost at around BIF 5,000. Then, the same public institution increases it at an average of 150% for all vehicles”, he says.

For the NGO, it is an unjust measure if one refers to the cost of living of Burundians. “, Burundi cannot be compared with other EAC member states. The cost of living and the purchasing power are not the same. In Rwanda, the GDP is at 700$ per year and per inhabitant; in Uganda, it is around 600$ per year like in Tanzania and Kenya. But in Burundi, the DGP is under 300$ per year and per inhabitant”, he says.

Gabriel Rufyiri urges the government to increase the GDP and development projects instead of increasing taxes and prices that come to worsen the Burundians’ living conditions.

Grenades Kill One, Injure 29 in Two Burundi Bars

By Moses Havyarimana

One person was killed and 29 others injured in twin grenade attacks in a Bujumbura neighbourhood, police said on Friday.

Burundi police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said the grenades exploded in two local bars in Buyenzi on Thursday night.

“I was drinking at local bar at around 7pm when I heard a blast and everyone scattered I didn’t know what had happened until I saw my elbow bleeding,” said 27-year-old Leandre, one of the victims.

“Only one person died on spot but the number could rise,” Mr Nkurikiye said, adding that the “criminals were among the customers.”

He said three suspects had been arrested.

The attacks came barely a fortnight after two people were killed in a similar attack in the same neighbourhood.

The government said the attacks were not politically motivated.

Sporadic attacks

Burundi has seen a rise in grenade attacks across the country following the political crisis that erupted two years ago after President Pierre Nkurunziza launched bid for a controversial third term, which he went on to win.

Last month eight people were killed in a grenade attack at a local bar in northern Kayanza province.

Meanwhile, the police said it is conducting investigations into the killing of two unidentified persons whose bodies were discovered in Gitega and Mwaro respectively, two provinces east of Bujumbura.

Burundi’s unrest has claimed between 500 and 2,000 lives and more than 400,000 Burundians have been forced into exile, rights groups and the UN say.


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2020 – Is President Nkurunziza Already at it Again?

analysisBy Lorraine Nkengurutse

The government claims Burundi is safe, that political disagreements have been resolved, and that the people want term limits removed ahead of 2020.

Two years since Burundi was plunged into violent political crisis, there are two diametrically opposing narratives being told about the current situation.

If you listen to the government, the country has recovered from the clashes and mass displacements that engulfed it from 2015. Things are now secure and back to normal, they say.

“Burundi has gained peace and stability,” said President Pierre Nkurunziza on a visit to Tanzania last month. His Tanzanian counterpart, John Magufuli, similarly commented: “I urge Burundians to remain in their country. I have been assured the place is now calm.”

However, listen to local human rights groups or international observers and a very different picture emerges.

Earlier this month, the UN Security Council expressed its “deep concern” over Burundi’s worsening humanitarian situation. In June, a UN commission of inquiry emphasised the “persistence of serious human rights violations in a climate of widespread fear”. Meanwhile, a recent report by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) claimed the ongoing crisis has now left at least 1,200 dead and seen the imprisonment of 10,000 people for political reasons.

This disagreement is not just a battle over narratives, but over the actions now needed to move Burundi forwards.

Burundi’s crisis

Burundi descended into crisis in April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would run for a controversial third term. Mass protests ensued, followed by a failed coup in May. Despite claims the move was unconstitutional, Nkrununziza went on to contest and win the July 2015 elections.

Violent attacks and assassinations followed. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced, news outlets were shut down, and foreign journalists expelled.

In response to this deadly turmoil, several international and regional organisations demanded that the Burundian government and opposition engage in a dialogue to restore peace.

Proper talks, however, have never taken off. Despite arranging four rounds of negotiations, regional mediators from the East African Community (EAC) have failed to get the government and opposition at the same table. The ruling CNDD-FDD insist that they will not negotiate with members of CNARED, the main opposition coalition in exile, accusing them of participating in the failed May 2015 coup.

“The process is moving slowly owing to the reluctance of the Government of Burundi to talk to its opponents,” said former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, the lead facilitator of the negotiations, in a statement this May.

Earlier this month, a delegation close to the government reportedly held near-secret talks with representatives from the opposition in exile in Finland. Some are optimistic that this suggests a revival of the talks, but the government distanced itself from the reports and the outcomes remain to be seen.

Internal talks

In Mkapa’s recent statement, he also expressed particular concerns over the government’s demands to “repatriate” the dialogue to Burundi. He explained that the CNDD-FDD is now resisting the externally-mediated talks, claiming that security conditions have been met and that questions around the constitution and 2020 elections have already been answered internally.

Indeed, on 12th May, the government received an 86-page report submitted by the National Commission for Internal Dialogue (CNDI) on these political matters. The body had been established unilaterally by the regime in October 2015 in order to consult the population. The researchers surveyed the opinions of 26,000 citizens and came up with recommendations.

Foremost among them is a proposal to change the constitution. According to the commission’s chair, Bishop Justin Nzoyisaba, “The majority of Burundians consulted support the suppression of the presidential term limits and stand for the amendment of the constitution”.

This apparent finding has led to a shift in the government’s focus, from the peace talks to the 2020 elections. Upon receiving the report, President Nkurunziza appointed a national commission to propose constitutional changes. In June, Burundi’s Ombudsman organised political retreats to discuss the outlook for the 2020 polls, the political and security situation, and the possibility of amending the constitution.

Furthermore, on 1 July, the anniversary of Burundi’s independence, Nkurunziza launched an election fundraiser. He called on citizens to help raise money so that the country would not have to rely on international support as was the case in 2015. “They promised to help us organising 2015 elections, but they suspended their funding just one week before the elections took place,” he said.

Removing term limits for Burundi 2020?

The government’s insistence that Burundi is stable and its growing indifference towards external peace talks have alarmed regional mediators.

“The [ruling] Party does not see any logic of continuing with the Inter-Burundi Dialogue to Burundi because the National Commission for Internal Dialogue (CNDI) has already finalized everything,” said Mkapa. “This volte-face in the thinking of the ruling Party surprised everybody and was viewed as a set back to the on-going peace process.”

Opposition and civil society activists are also critical of the government’s approach and plans.

Jean Claude Nkundwa, a local conflict resolution expert, says the government is deliberately trying to avoid external involvement. Amongst other things, he says that the Nkurunziza administration’s intention is “to exclude political opponents in exile from 2020 election process”.

Charles Nditije, chair of CNARED, also claims that the government is trying to shrug off observers and deceive the Burundian people and international community into believing that the past disputes have already been settled. “The government plans to distract us from our commitment to resolve the current political crisis,” he says.

According to the UN, there are over 200,000 internally displaced persons in Burundi. Three million people are in need of humanitarian support. And over 416,000 Burundians are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries and are too afraid to return.

The worry now is that Nkurunziza is taking advantage of the very uncertainty created by his 2015 bid for power in order to try it all again in 2020.

MPs Call On Government to Punish Politicians Using Inflammatory Language

By Diane Uwimana

The Minister of Interior was invited to the National Assembly in the session of oral questions on Tuesday 8 August. Some MPs have said they are concerned about the inflammatory language used by some the political leaders.

Bernard Ndayisenga, an MP asked the Minister of the Interior if those politicians who use inflammatory words are not breaking the law. He was referring to the speech delivered by Jeanne Ndimubandi, Secretary General of the National Liberation Front party -FNL.

In her address to FNL party members in Rumonge southern Province on 22 July, Jeanne Ndimubandi publicly accused the coalition “Amizero y’Abarundi” of seeking to take power by force. She also said democracy has been established in Burundi since the country is ruled by a president from a Hutu ethnic group. “This kind of speech would divide Burundians”, MP Ndayisenga says.

Angèle Ciza, another MP also says the Director of Public Prosecutions would have already used his jurisdictions to summon politicians using a divisive language. “Burundians felt hurt by what FNL leaders said”, she says. He urges the Ministry of the Interior to intervene as such inflammatory words would have a negative impact on Burundians.

On 28 July, Jacques Bigirimana, the chairman of FNL party accused Agathon Rwasa, the leader of the coalition “Amizero y’Abarundi” of having not yet given up the idea of war. Bigirimana explained that the tangible evidence of Rwasa’s plan to wage war is contained in the files of the security forces.

Pascal Barandagiye, Minister of the Interior says the criminal responsibility is individual. “I personally didn’t hear the inflammatory language used by FNL leaders but as they are mature, they must accept full responsibility for the language they use”, he says. He, however, says that if it is the case, the justice and police must do their part.

Barandagiye also says his ministry will conduct investigations into the case to provide them with some pieces of advice if ever it proves true that a divisive language has been used. Otherwise, he says, inflammatory words are strictly forbidden in the Constitution as they should divide the Burundian population.

Pierre Nkurikiye, spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Security said it’s up to the politicians themselves to answer to the questions that arise from the statements they have made themselves. “The police do technical work and are meant to be apolitical”, he said.

On behalf of Justice Ministry, Aimé Laurentine Kanyana, the Minister said she recommended the Director of Public Prosecutions to open information file over what has been said by the leaders of FNL.

In 2015, Burundi plunged into a serious political crisis ten years after the end of a civil war in 2005 that had started in 1993. It was the result of long standing ethnic divisions between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups.


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We Won’t Tax Your Businesses, Burundi Govt Assures Returnees

By Moses Havyarimana

The Burundi government has said it will waive taxes on capital or businesses of Burundians returning home.

The announcement comes weeks after President Pierre Nkurunziza visited Tanzania and asked Burundian refugees to go back home and contribute to development.

During celebrations in Bujumbura to mark the Burundi Diaspora Week, First Vice-President Gaston Sindimwo said the government would provide land to returnees willing to invest in their homeland.

In 2015 more than 400,000 Burundians fled after fighting broke out. The government is now wooing them to return.

The incentives by Bujumbura have been praised as good measures to attract its citizens in the diaspora.

“The diaspora should contribute to their country of origin,” said Kristina Mejo, chief of mission at the International Organisation for Migration in Burundi.

The UN Secretary-General’s special envoy Michel Kafando addressed the UN Security Council on the current political situation in Burundi after meeting with President Nkurunziza and other stakeholders in and outside the country, for an all-inclusive dialogue as the only way to restore peace and stability to the country.

However, the government has since 2016 snubbed the invitation to sit with opposition members it accuses of having plotted the failed coup in 2015.

“We negotiated with him while he was fighting the government and he (Nkurunziza) was condemned to death but we accepted to negotiate with him,” former Burundi President Domitien Ndayizeye told The EastAfrican in Bujumbura.

Rights violations

The Burundi Senate last week rejected a resolution passed by the EU Parliament on the political situation in the country and urged the Burundi government to co-operate with the UN commission of Inquiry into human rights violations.

Europe expressed concern at the political and the security situation in the country, and that killings and other human rights abuses had taken place in Burundi since 2015 calling on the government to fully co-operate with the UN Commission of Inquiry to conduct the investigations.


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Nahimana Stars As Burundi Complete Djibouti Double

Striker Falonne Nahimana inspired Burundi to a 2-1 win over Djibouti in their preliminary second leg FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 qualifier on Saturday, 5 August 2017 away in Djibouti.

The victory saw ‘Les Hirondelles’ progressed 8-1 on aggregate on the back of a 6-0 win in the first leg two weeks earlier in Bujumbura.

The 16-year old Burundi number ’10’ scored the winner two minutes from time adding to her hat-trick in the first leg, to ensure a smooth passage for the Daniella Niyibimenya tutored side.

Midfielder Erica Kanyamuneza gave the visiting ‘Les Hirondelles’ the lead on 19 minutes before Kafia Abdourahman Arab leveled for Djibouti on 68 minutes.

The back-to-back victories earn passage for the Burundians into the First Round, where they have drawn a bye after opponents Rwanda withdrew from the qualifiers. Burundi will face either South Africa or Namibia at the penultimate round of the continental qualifiers.

Two teams will emerge from the African qualifiers to represent the continent at the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup scheduled for 7-26 August 2018 in France.


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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.

Evariste Ndayishimiye: ‘We Have Several Potential Candidates for 2020’

interviewBy Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana

The Secretary General of the ruling CNDD FDD party expresses himself on several current concerns including the place of CNARED in the dialogue, the issue of term limit and the candidate for 2020 presidential election.

What is your reading of the external dialogue led by the mediation?

The objective of the external dialogue was to repatriate all Burundians in exile because of fear. Some people had traumatized the population. Those who were weak felt compelled to leave. It was necessary to restore confidence and make sure that all those who are outside the country return.

Some voices demand that people like Niyombare, Sinduhije and Pacifique Nininahazwe take part in the internal dialogue. Do you support them?

How do you want that someone who is wanted by the justice be free to decide on the stability of the country when he himself is the destabilizing element? I think it is understandable that people who are wanted cannot participate in this dialogue. Rather, they should come before the court to defend themselves. If they come out victorious, there is no problem. But if they are found guilty, they will have to serve their sentences and be freed at the end of the penalty.

Shouldn’t immunity be granted to those who are prosecuted to allow them to return?

It’s a handful of people who want to manipulate the public opinion and they should not distract us. I would advise the Burundian people not to be distracted. There is no immunity. Is there another Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the coup d’état? Will two TRC be sacked up? It is not logical.

The new presidency of CNARED spoke of the possibility of a transitional government without Pierre Nkurunziza. What’s your take on that?

They say all they want because they are outside the country. They got an occupation: to tell anything when there is nothing to say. The reality is quite different. CNARED is an organization that covers coup plotters. These are people who have in mind the idea of overthrowing the institutions. So, it is not surprising to hear them talk like that.

Are you for or against a transitional government?

It is impossible to change a government that has been democratically elected by the people. The elections have taken place and the resulting institutions have been put in place. Those who want to run the country have to wait until the 2020 elections to come forward.

Demands for sanctions against Burundi are issued while Bujumbura praises lull

There are people who would wish to see Burundi like Somalia or become like Libya. This is totally impossible because Burundi is not divided. Burundians are one people .They have reconciled. These people who wish evil to Burundi are not happy with this reality.

That is why you will hear about preparations for the genocide while the government is making efforts to stabilize the country. It is a way of tarnishing Burundi’s image vis-à-vis the international community.

What is the position of the CNDD FDD in relation to the amendment of the Constitution to exclude the term limit in particular?

Until now, these are only debates. Everyone expresses themselves freely. I also have my ideas. Nevertheless, there has not yet been a meeting within the party to decide on the CNDD-FDD’s position in relation to the provisions of the Constitution.

What is essential is the setting up of a commission that will be responsible for this revision by bringing together all these ideas in order to be able to identify what is right and good for our country.

But the demonstrations regularly held speak of Nkurunziza as president in 2020?

People have the right to express themselves. In a democratic regime, the aspirations of the people take precedence over anything. However, it takes more than that to know the true position of the people. There must be a referendum and vote count. For the moment, people are expressing themselves but no decisions have been made so far. Let us wait.

Why always Nkurunziza? Isn’t there anybody in CNDD-FDD who can succeed him?

I imagine that those who think like this are those who are afraid of the popularity of Nkurunziza. The party has not yet presented its candidate. Otherwise, there are many candidates within CNDD-FDD. The Congress will decide when the time comes. To date, we do not know the candidate for 2020.

Are there any candidates who have the ambition to succeed Pierre Nkurunziza?

When one is truly engaged in politics, they can easily claim to govern a country. We do not need to be prepared, we are ready. I consider as a candidate any competent and active member of CNDD-FDD. And there are many.

Are you among them?

I know that there are several people capable of being candidates within CNDD-FDD. This will depend on the decision of the congress. In fact, the candidate will be the one who will have emerged from the lot of the ego (laughter).

You organized a tour with the diplomats, a successful seduction operation?

We wanted to take some time to discuss with the international community based in here. It was also about creating a framework for lively exchanges. We welcomed the presence of all diplomats. They had time to contemplate our country. I think that one must know the country they represent. We did not want to advertise it and the main thing was to create this beautiful and discreet opportunity.

There are 400 thousand Burundians who fled the country according to UNHCR. What is the ruling party doing to bring them back?

I think all these figures are issued in order to manipulate the international community. Nor should we lose sight of the fact that it is UNHCR officials who need a job. Imagine a world without refugees. What will happen to these officials? (Laughing). Seriously, what is essential to my party is that all the children of the nation come back to develop our country. We are glad that some of them have returned and encourage others to do the same.

In front of your office door, there is a poster which reads “2017, Fight poverty”. Is it your pet subject? What are you doing to get there?

The day I was elected Secretary General of the party, I said that our only enemy is poverty. I am mobilizing the population, awakening the minds so that people become aware in order to work hard. Even if they only worked 12 hours a day, that would do. This year is devoted to mobilization as the first phase. It is a kind of foundation that will be followed by a study on global development next year and I have confidence in the people of Burundi.

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