Burundi Leader Dubbed ‘Eternal Supreme Guide’ By Party


Portrait of Burudian President Pierre Nkurunziza at Mogadish Airport, 22 April,2014. AU UN IST Photo / Ilyas A. Abukar/Flickr

 

Burundi’s ruling party has bestowed the title of “eternal supreme guide” on President Pierre Nkurunziza, a party official confirmed Sunday, as critics claimed he wants to lock in power for life.

“He is our elder, our father, our adviser,” CNDD-FDD secretary general Evariste Ndayishimiye said in a video sent to AFP whose authenticity was confirmed by an official.

A party statement issued after a meeting Saturday of the party’s top leadership in Nkurunziza’s native Buye in the north of the former Belgian colony did not spell out the implications of the title.

The 54-year-old former rebel leader has ruled the densely populated central African country since 2005 after a devastating civil war.

A constitutional referendum in May could allow him to run in elections in 2020, paving the way for him to remain in power until 2034.

Critics mocked the development, with one decrying the “cult of personality around his majesty the King Nkurunziza I”.

But another party official, who asked not to be named, insisted to AFP the move did not reflect “an excess such as those of (former North Korean dictator) Kim Il Sung, as our detractors suggest”.

Burundi has faced a serious political crisis since Nkurunziza sought a fiercely contested third term in office in April 2015.

Post-election violence claimed at least 1,200 lives and displaced more than 400,000 people between April 2015 and May 2017, according to estimates by the International Criminal Court, which has opened an investigation.

Nkurunziza has led several purges in the ranks of the former rebellion and surrounded himself with a select group of generals.

Opposition parties warn the constitutional changes could deal a death blow to the Arusha peace accords that helped to end the 1993-2006 civil war, in which more than 300,000 people died.

The Arusha accords stipulate that no president can govern the country for more than 10 years. The current constitution sets a limit of two five-year mandates.

Buhari Advocates Dialogue In Resolving Political Crisis In Burundi

Buhari and Pierre BuyoyaNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has urged the people and government of Burundi to explore dialogue in resolving the current political differences in the country.

Receiving the former Burundian President, Mr Pierre Buyoya, on Tuesday at the State House in Abuja, President Buhari said that Nigeria would continue to support peace processes in the continent through the African Union (AU), which had already intervened in Burundi.

The President said that since President Pierre Nkurunziza rejected the proposal of a “stabilising force from the AU, we can’t impose it on him, but we will continue to opt for dialogue.

“Nigeria has been playing a key role in the continent through the AU. We participated fully in ensuring a truce in Mali, and we want citizens to enjoy the impact of the truce, although the terrorists are not helping matters.

“Nigeria is always committed to regional and continental peace, and we will continue to do our best,” he said.

President Buhari told the former President of Burundi, who is the High Representative of the AU Mission to Mali and the Sahel, that he remained hopeful that there would be an amicable solution to the situation in Burundi.

In his remarks, the former President commended Nigeria for the role it played in restoring peace to Mali, noting that the AU was working to promote security in the Sahel, particularly through fighting trans-border terrorism.

He also urged Nigeria to use its clout to work for peace in Burundi, warning that the “country is gradually inching towards a civil war.”

Burundi Is On Brink Of Civil War, UN Warns

BurundiThe United Nations (UN) has warned that Burundi is on the brink of a civil war amid continued human rights abuses in the small Central African state.

Burundi has been embroiled in political violence since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced last April that he would seek a third term.

At least 439 people had been killed and more than 250,000 had fled the country.

The United Nations is under growing pressure to show it can halt the bloodshed in Burundi, more than two decades after the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda.

U.N. Rights Chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said there was no indication of a decline in reports of arbitrary arrests and detentions and there was an increase in reports of torture and ill-treatment.

“Continued human rights violations and impunity for perpetrators mean that many of Burundi’s people live in terror.

“The country remains on the brink of a sudden escalation of violence to even more massive proportions, ” Zeid said.

In January, the 15-member Security Council made its second visit to the landlocked state in less than a year, where fears of an ethnic war also led to an economic crisis. U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon also visited in February.

“I expressed my profound worry that the potential spiraling of violence risks relapse into civil war.

“I urge the government to take measures to address the continued violence and the impunity that fuels it,” Ban told the Security Council.

Rwanda Rejects Arrest Claim By Burundi Police

burundi policeRwanda has rejected a claim by police in neighboring Burundi that they had detained a Rwandan soldier there who was on a mission to “destabilize” Burundi.

Burundi police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said last Saturday they had arrested a Rwandan man close to the border with Tanzania, about 250 km from the Burundian capital of Bujumbura, whose aim was to destabilize the central African country.

Rwandan government officials said on Thursday they had managed to track down the man’s family, who confirmed he was not a soldier and described him instead as a “thug”.

Brig. Gen Joseph Nzabamwita, spokesman for the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF), said earlier this week no soldiers were missing from the force and the man’s name was not in its files.

“The accusations are very childish, ridiculous and lack credibility,” Nzabamwita told Reuters. “This soldier does not exist.”

Burundi has been in turmoil since last April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to seek a third term, sparking weeks of street protests. Rights groups have warned the country could be slipping toward civil war.

More than 400 people have been killed since then, including in the aftermath of a coup attempt in May. Opposition parties say Nkurunziza’s election bid, which he went on to win, was unconstitutional.

Burundi accused Rwanda in December of supporting a rebel group that was recruiting Burundian refugees on Rwandan soil, a charge dismissed by Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

A confidential report to the U.N. Security Council accuses Rwanda of recruiting and training Burundian refugees with the aim of ousting Nkurunziza.

Burundi and Rwanda have the same ethnic mix, about 85 percent Hutus and 15 percent Tutsis. A 12-year civil war in Burundi, which ended in 2005, pitted a Tutsi-led army against Hutu rebel groups.

Grenade Attack Kills One As Burundi Violence Continues

burundi policeAt least one person was killed in a grenade attack on a bar in Burundi on Monday night, witnesses said.

Burundi has experienced more violence since the African Union backed away from sending in peacekeepers without the government’s consent.

The grenades went off in the Butere neighborhood of the capital Bujumbura on Monday night.

“One (person) was killed instantly,” an eyewitness, Jean de Dieu, who was near the scene of attack said.

Police spokesman, Pierre Nkurikiye, confirmed two grenades were detonated and eight people were wounded.

Burundi sank into crisis last year after President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third term in office, which he secured in a disputed vote.

African leaders, who met in Addis Ababa at the weekend, agreed to send a team to try to persuade Nkurunziza to accept a 5,000-strong force after he rejected the plan and said any such force would be treated as an invasion.

The Butere neighborhood was one of the flashpoints during the height of the violent protest against Nkurunziza’s decision, along with the neighboring Mutakura and Cibitoke areas.

When the peacekeeping plan was announced in December by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, officials had said they could invoke an article of the AU’s charter that allows it to act even without a government’s agreement.

But African leaders showed wariness of such a move at the summit and instead decided to seek approval first.

Following a visit by the U.N. Security Council to Burundi late last month, Nkrunziza wrote to the 15-member body to say he took note of their concerns.

“We have decided — and issued instructions accordingly to the officials of the services concerned — to make ourselves available to the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General,” Nkurunziza wrote in a January 25 letter, made public on Tuesday.

He promised they would cooperate closely with the special adviser’s team to support an inclusive national dialogue, disarmament, security, human rights and development.

Police Make Several Arrests After Burundi Grenade Attack

burundi2Police in Burundi have made several arrests after a grenade attack left three persons dead.

Police spokesman, Pierre Nkurukiye, said that a senior police officer, a lawyer and a civil servant were killed in the attack that took place in the Bwiza neighborhood.

Witnesses said that the attackers used a motorbike to get to the scene and to flee after the explosion.

Police arrested several youths in the area after the attack on the bar that is popular with Nkurunziza’s supporters, the witnesses added.

Burindi sank into a crisis in 2015 after President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third term of office, which he secured in a disputed vote.

U.N. officials say the crisis has brought the nation to the brink of a new civil war, after it emerged from a 12-year, ethnically fueled conflict just a decade ago.

 

 

Burundi Crisis: At Least 90 Dead

burundi crisisAt least 90 people have been killed in clashes in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura in one of the worst outbreak of violence in the African nation.

Scores of bodies are reportedly still lying in the streets with some of their hands tied behind their backs on Sunday.

At least four police officers and four troops were among those killed in the violence, which rocked the capital on Friday. About 45 people were arrested.

The Army said that the clash was the worst outbreak of violence in Burundi since a failed coup in May.

Army spokesman, Gaspard Baratuza, said that gunmen had attacked three military sites in Bujumbura on Friday, igniting a day of clashes across the city.

He said that 79 attackers were killed and 45 others captured.

Unrest in Burundi, which started in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza, announced plans for a third term in office, has unnerved a region still volatile two decades after the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda.

Friday’s clashes were condemned by the United States, which like other western powers fears the Central African nation could slide back into ethnic conflict.

More than 220,000 people have fled the violence to neighbouring Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Congo.

France Bombs Isis Targets

IsisFrench jets have begun to bomb Isis targets in eastern Syria.

According to France’s defence ministry, the bombing started hours after the country’s national police launched an international manhunt for a dangerous suspect wanted for his involvement in the Paris attacks.

The French Ministry of Defense said it targeted a command post and a terrorist training camp, dropping 20 bombs on Isis’s de facto capital in Raqqah, Syria.

The first target includes a command post, a jihadist recruiting centre and a weapons warehouse.

Ten French fighter jets were launched simultaneously from the United Arab Emirates and Jordan in an operation carried out in coordination with U.S. Military Command.

Hours earlier, the French national police said it was looking for Salah Abdeslam, a 26-year-old French national who was born in Brussels, for his involvement in the attacks.

France Calls For End To Burundi Violence At UN 

BurundiConcerned by the rapidly escalating violence in Burundi, France has submitted a draft resolution at the UN Security Council calling for action to stop the crisis.

The council met on Monday at France’s request to discuss Burundi’s worst violence in ten years.

The crisis began in April with protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial decision to stand for a third term.

On Saturday, nine people were shot dead in a bar in the capital Bujumbura.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon condemned the killings saying that the dead included a un staff member.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has also been critical of the way its neighbour is dealing with crisis and there is increasing concern that the spiral of violence could be taking on more of an ethnic dimension.

Rwanda Court Scraps Presidential Term Limits

rwandaThe Supreme Court in Rwanda has ruled that the country’s constitution can be changed to allow President Paul Kagame to run another term in elections in 2017.

The country’s parliament had approved changing the constitution, after more than 3.7 million people had signed a petition, asking for the two-term limit to be scrapped.

However, a referendum has been scheduled to determine whether the public supports a constitutional amendment to lift the current two-term limit on presidents.

Third term campaigns have caused unrest in other African countries; especially in Burundi, where at least 70 people were killed, after President Pierre Nkurunziza in April, said that he was running for a third term.

Burundi Expels Rwandan Diplomat As Tensions Rise

burundiBurundi has expelled a senior Rwandan diplomat, officials said on Wednesday, in what is the latest sign of tension between the Central African neighbours that share a history of ethnic conflict.

Burundi was plunged into crisis six months ago, when President Pierre Nkurunziza’s announcement that he would seek a third term ignited weeks of protests and a failed coup. Nkurunziza went on to win a July 21 vote, but opposition groups have accused his government of a violent crackdown against them.

Rwanda, which endured a genocide in 1994, has expressed alarm about the situation in Burundi and its regional implications.

A Permanent Secretary in Burundi’s Ministry of External Relations and International Cooperation, Salvator Ntacobamaze, said that the diplomat, Desire Nyaruhirira, had been expelled but declined to give any further explanation.

Government spokesman, Phillipe Nzobonariba, said that the expulsion was most likely due to the diplomat’s alleged contacts “with putschists hosted in Rwanda”.

“It is not a problem with a country but a problem with an individual since he is reported to be in permanent contact with coup plotters,” he said.

Rwanda had no immediate comment.

Opposition groups have accused Burundi’s government of launching a crackdown since May, when crowds first took to the streets saying Nkurunziza’s bid for a third presidential term was unconstitutional.

Burundian security personnel have been accused of conducting frequent raids in parts of the capital Bujumbura that are known to be opposition strongholds.

A row broke out this week at a prison in central Burundi after police tried to move 28 prisoners tied to efforts to topple Nkurunziza into isolation. Inmates blocked the police from entering, while opposition leaders said they feared for the prisoners’ lives.

The police on Wednesday succeeded in isolating the 28 prisoners, prison officials said, with no deaths reported.

Votes Count In Burundi Controversial Election

Pierre Nkurunziza-on-burundi-electionPeople in Burundi have cast their votes in tension over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to stand for a third consecutive term.

Presently, the votes are being counted under three-quarters of the country’s 3.8m eligible voters who turned out on Tuesday after a night of gunfire and explosions that claimed lives.

Ballots would continue to be tallied on Wednesday, but officials have said that they do not expect the results to be announced until Thursday.

Shortly before voting started on Tuesday, a policeman and a civilian were killed amid a string of explosions and gunfire in the capital Bujumbura, the epicenter of three months of anti-government protests.

Two policemen were shot dead in the capital Bujumbura on Monday night, said Willy Nyamitwe, the President’s chief communications adviser.

The body of an opposition official was found earlier on a road.

The US State Department had joined critics in saying the election lacks credibility.

Meanwhile, the government accused the opposition of provoking violent protests.

President Nkurunziza is running for a third term despite a limit of two terms in the constitution.