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The East African : February 10th 2014
The EastAfrican NEWS FEBRUARY 8-14,2014 13 To mention only a few: The very popular historical FNL leader Agathon Rwasa who has been deprived of his political party; ADC-Ikibiri which has seen Hussein Radjabu and Frédéric Bamvuginyumvira (to mention only two individuals out of hundreds of political prisoners) behind bars at the Mpimba prison; supporters of Isidore Rufyikiri, former chair of the Bar Association, former traders of the central market in Bujumbura, women hawkers who are harassed by the police, activists for social justice against the high cost of living, etc. A close look reveals a whole Burundian society who have a grudge against Minister Nduwimana and the kind of justice dispensed by the Nkurunziza regime are growing exponentially by the day. WHO IS NKURUNZIZA? Following a series of CNDD-FDD victories in elections held during June and July 2005, Pierre Nkurunziza was nominated as the party’s presidential candidate. He was elected president unopposed by Members of Parliament (acting as an electoral college) on August 19, 2005 and took office on August 26, 2005. The new head of state inherited a country devastated by over a decade of civil war and dictatorship. In spite of those difficulties, he has since been working hard to restore peace and concord among the Burundian people. His policy is aimed at reconstruction and reconciliation, economic recovery and political stability. President Nkurunziza concluded a peace accord with the last rebel group, the Palipehutu-Fnl. Internet vete≥ans Kasamba, the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture. Mr Kasamba said that the com- mittee would not object to the president’s idea, but only if it is within the law. Shadow minister for agriculture Dr Francis Epetait, who also sits on the committee, said he is uncomfortable with the president’s move, which he argued “misses the point,” adding that Naads is now being used to serve political objectives of the president and the ruling party. Efforts to reach the president’s press secretary were futile, and it remains unclear if Museveni will shelve his plan due to the criticism it has attracted. What is clear is that this is tak- ing political undertones and in the absence of a law supporting it, having war veterans in these positions will be an illegality. Supporters of opposition leader Agathon Rwasa in Bujumbura last year. Picture: File world out there just waiting for a trigger to take it to the streets shouting “enough is enough”. UPRONA, the Independence party, could take the bull by the horns and co-ordinate with all other forces in the nation to make the country ungovernable for the Nkurunziza government through a large-scale non-violent movement. Politics is all about balance of power. If UPRONA goes ahead with this scenario, the first reaction of the Nkurunziza side will be violent. Teargas, brutal beatings, imprisonment, etc. Some leaders of the national movement could even lose their lives. But success will depend on the tenacity, discipline, determination and leadership in this movement. It will have to be prepared for a long, non-violent struggle. If the movement continues, the Nkurunziza camp will have to negotiate. First point on the agenda: The removal of the Home Affairs Minister Edouard Nduwimana. The worst-case, most extreme and disturbing scenario is if UPRONA enters into resistance without a coalition with other parties perceived as non-Tutsi. The Nkurunziza camp could easily turn the current crisis into an open Hutu-Tutsi con- flict (tensions are already building up). The Tutsi candidates pro- posed by Mr Niyoyankana will only be considered as traitors who represent nothing but their own bellies. This scenario would be a total breach of the Arusha Accords that bind together Hutu and Tutsi in a fragile peace. Tutsis, feeling they are no longer represented in the institutions, will naturally be concerned about their physical security. In our part of the Great Lakes, conflicts tend to escalate very quickly and irrationally. Unquestionably, this aspect will draw the army into the picture, the former Burundi Armed Forces (FAB) on one side and the former FDD combatants on the other (there are rumors that some army officers had to be restrained by politicians on the evening of Major Busokoza’s sacking). The consequences will be very serious. Burundian soldiers would kill each other not only in Somalia and in the Central African Republic, but Burundi itself would enter into a cycle of violence worse than that observed in Somalia or the Central African Republic. The international community must be extremely vigilant inthe situation, because this violence will not limit itself to Burundi. Should Burundi slide into chaos, international interests will be in great jeopardy. The situation is serious. Our leaders must evaluate their actions and reactions accordingly. If Burundi goes back to its demons and violent past, there will be nothing honourable in the legacy of Pierre Nkurunziza, who will be remembered as the first post-Arusha president to breach the national peace and reconciliation agreement and for filling mass graves afresh. Thierry Uwamahoro is a Burundian scholar President Nkurunzinza at the AU summit last year. Picture: File Nku≥unziza thi≥d te≥m plan spa≥ks anxiety By FRED OLUOCH Special Correspondent THE EAST AFRICAN region will in coming weeks be anxiously watching the unfolding political crisis in Burundi following a parting of ways between the ruling coalition partners over fears that President Pierre Nkurunzinza is seeking a third term. Burundi is scheduled to hold elections in June 2015 but the withdrawal of the Union for National Progress (Uprona) raises political temperatures in a country where the ruling National Council for Defence of Democracy-Forces for Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) is facing accusations of increasing intolerance and abuse of human rights. The country is still grappling with the aftermath of 13 years of instability, which was the reason why the East African Community member states in 2010 spared no efforts to ensure that the country held violence-free elections. Uprona was the only party that participated in the 2010 elections, which were boycotted by the main opposition National Liberation Forces (FNL) led by Agathon Rwasa. Yet Uprona — a mainly Tutsi party — is now becoming jittery at the prospect of President Nkurunzinza running again and is unhappy with the manner in which land distribution has been favouring Hutus. President Nkurunzinza is constitutionally supposed to stay out of the 2015 elections, having been elected in 2005 for the first of two five-year terms in the first democratic elections after 13 years of civil war and a series of assassinations of the country’s presidents. But some CNDD-FDD sup- porters argue that the president was elected by the National Assembly in 2005 and not by universal suffrage, and that he can thus run for another term in 2015. Presidential spokesman Wil- President Museveni inspecting a guard of honour during the Tarehe Sita celebrations last week at Katara in Buhwezu. Picture: PPU ly Nyamitwe maintained that President Nkurunziza has not declared his candidature. However, the government has openly stated that it wishes to see the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB) end its mandate by February 15 on grounds that its continued presence sends signals to foreign investors that the country is unstable. BNUB was established by the United Nations Security Council in December 2010 as a scaled-down operation to replace the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi from January 1, 2011. The UN responded by send- ing a strategic assessment mission in November last year that recommended a scaling down of BNUB “political mission” and the appointment of a special envoy to promote and facilitate dialogue between national actors and co-ordinate international efforts to ensure a conducive, free and fair environment for the 2015 elections. Concerns raised by Burundi forced the UN Secretary-General’s special representative and head of BNUB, OnangaAnyanga, to hold talks with the government to try to reach an agreement regarding a continued UN political presence in the country. The strategic assessment mis- sion concluded that the security situation in Burundi remained stable, but in light of the political and institutional challenges in the country, and humanrights concerns, BNUB should remain until after the June 2015 general election. In its country report for Feb- ruary 2013, the United Nations Security Council expressed concern about continuing violations of human rights, in particular ongoing extrajudicial killings, mistreatment of detainees and torture, limitations on the freedom of the press and freedom of expression, as well as limited space for opposition parties to associate and assemble. But the Burundi govern- ment through its UN ambassador, Hermenegilde Niyonzima, maintained that the country had worked hard to ensure respect for human rights and has established an independent electoral commission to ensure competitive politics.
February 3rd 2014
February 17th 2014