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The East African : Jul 19th 2015
4 ARMY ENGAGES ATTACKERS Rwanda denies claims of providing refuge to armed Burundi rebels O∞cial claims a≥eas whe≥e fighting took place we≥e nea≥ to Bujumbu≥a By A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT The EastAfrican C laims that Rwanda is providing refuge to Bu- rundians who plan to launch a rebellion against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government could strain relations between the two countries. Canisius Ndayimanisha, the governor of Kayanza Province, said the rebels had entered Burundi from Rwanda and engaged the Burundian army, leaving 31 rebels dead and 170 captured. Six government soldiers were injured in the fighting and a cache of arms seized. “The armed group entered from Rwanda and attacked very early on Sunday morning. The local population alerted a military post and there were battles, which left 12 of the attackers dead,” Mr Ndayimanisha said. Rwanda’s Minister of For- eign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo could not be reached to respond to the claims, but the minister, who is also the government spokesperson, reportedly said that Burundi found it “convenient to find responsibility elsewhere.” Rwandan officials also dis- missed claims that the fighting, which took place in Kayanza and Cibitoke provinces, was “near” Rwanda. Kibira National Park stretches from the Rwandan border deep into Burundi. The rebels are said to have taken advantage of the thick vegetation to push through to within kilometres of the capi- CIVIL UNREST Civil unrest erupted on April 26 in Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital, after the ruling CNDD-FDD party elected President Pierre Nkurunziza on April 25 as its candidate for the then-scheduled June 26 presidential election. President Nkurunziza has been in office for two terms since 2005. Several actors warned that seeking a third term was unconstitutional and contrary to the spirit of the 2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that ended a decade of civil war in the country. The mounting violence across Burundi has provoked a humanitarian crisis as refugees have spilled across the country’s borders. Suspected rebels at the Ndora military camp in Bukinanyana in northern Cibitoke Province on July 13, after being arrested by the Burundian army. Picture: AFP tal Bujumbura. Olivier Nduhungirehe, the acting director general in charge of multilateral affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation, tweeted that the areas where the fighting took place were “nearer” to the capital Bujumbura than they were to Rwanda. Reports indicate that some Burundian opposition members are camping in Rwanda. An opposition figure, who spoke to The EastAfrican in Kigali on condition of anonymity, said Burundian refugees in Rwanda could return home to fight President Nkurunziza’s government. The armed group entered from Rwanda and attacked very early on Sunday morning.” Governor of Kayanza Province Canisius Ndayimanisha “What is clear is that Pres- ident Nkurunziza is not relinquishing power soon, and he will win the elections illegitimately. So the only way for us is to fight our way back and remove him,” said the official, who was previously a high ranking member of Burundian civil society. He said that the majority of the over 60,000 refugees in Rwanda would be willing to return home, but under the current circumstances it is impossible. “It is our own initiative and wish to return home by all means,” the official said, denying that they have support from the Rwandan government. On Thursday, the National Liberation Front (FNL), who previously waged a war against the government, denied links to the rebels, who they said were a creation of the Burundian government. “War has never been part of our plans. The alleged rebels are a creation of the government to use it as an excuse to harass the opposition further. We do not support calls for a civil war,” said Agathon Rwasa, leader of the FNL. The EastAfrican NEWS JULY 18-24,2015 Kagame thi≥d te≥m opposed By KEVIN J KELLEY Special Correspondent THE US on Wednesday reiterated its opposition to a third term for Rwanda President Paul Kagame. The comment, made in response to a query from the The EastAfrican, follows the Rwandan Parliament’s vote to amend the country’s constitution to remove a provision barring a president from serving more than two terms. “The US has consistently called for African leaders across the continent to respect term limits,” said Rodney Ford, spokesman for the State Department’s Africa Bureau. “We do not support changing constitutions to benefit the personal or political interests of individuals or parties.” Washington said last month in regard to the move to enable President Kagame to run again that “democracy is best advanced through the development of strong institutions, not strongmen.” The State Department added in June: “We are committed to support peaceful, democratic transition in 2017 to a new leader elected by the Rwandan people.” There is broad support in Rwanda for President Kagame remaining in office beyond 2017. Anti-Nku≥unziza g≥oups to meet in Addis By TREVOR ANALO The EastAfrican REPRESENTATIVES OF Burundian opposition groups were expected to meet this week in Addis Ababa to formalise a new coalition ahead of the July 21 presidential election. The country’s fractured opposition has been criticised for failing to speak with one voice during negotiations with the ruling party CNDD-FDD. But now it is coalescing around one leader, a move that could increase its political leverage and standing. Officially announced last Wednesday, the National Council for the Restoration of the Arusha Accord and the Rule of Law in Burundi brings together all antiNkurunziza voices. Some Burundian political actors are said to have thrown their weight behind the group — which includes defectors from Mr Nkurunziza’s regime, including former second vice president Gervais Rufyikiri and former president of the National Assembly Pie Ntavyohanyuma. It also has the backing of political parties, civil society leaders, rebel army generals and moderate CNDD-FDD members. “Leverage is everything in negotia- tions, and this council will give us the political weight we need in order for President Nkurunziza and the world to listen to us,” Alexis Sinduhije, leader of the opposition party Movement for Solidarity and Development, told The EastAfrican. Diplomacy Several diplomatic attempts by re- gional leaders, the African Union and the United Nations have failed to end the political stalemate. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni — who is mediating the talks — failed to secure a deal last Wednesday, only urging the parties to “expeditiously continue” with negotiations. But Thierry Vircoulon, a Central Af- rica analyst with the International Crisis Group, says its “too little, too late” because the government will hold the presidential elections on Tuesday. A statement from the council leaders said they decided to form the group because President Nkurunziza has ignored all their “proposals of political compromise” and has consistently refused to “participate in the fundamental exercise of political dialogue.” In Addis Ababa, the opposition groups will highlight their agenda and discuss how to forge a cohesive and more structured opposition leadership that will lead the country out of the crisis. The most difficult job however will be securing international recognition and support for the transitional council as the legitimate voice of the Burundian people, and perhaps, as a future alternative to Mr Nkurunziza’s regime. “We are going to put in place political and diplomatic committees to drive our agenda domestically and abroad,” said Mr Sinduhije. He added that they will continue with protests in Burundi to “paralyse the work of the government.” Addis was chosen for the meeting because the council wants to formally initiate contact with the AU, which has criticised President Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term.
Jul 12th 2015
Jul 26th 2015