Former combatants have joined the debate featuring President Pierre Nkurunziza’s desire to seek a third term in office.
On Tuesday, more than 200 representatives of demobilised former combatants launched a declaration of war to the opposition and the Burundian civil society that are against Nkurunziza’s return.
Veterans, highly feared especially in rural areas, came from the 17 provinces of Burundi and converged at a hotel in the capital Bujumbura.
“We, the veterans, we know that we voted for President in 2010. For 2005, we assure that he was elected by MPs and senators, that we did not have a mandate,” Moses Bukuru, their president was quoted as saying.
They warned opposition and Burundian civil society that should they take to the streets as soon as President Pierre Nkurunziza announces his intention to run for a third term in presidential of June, they (combatants) will intervene.
“We warn politicians and civil society organizations behind the question of a second term head of state to destabilize the country and call the population to demonstrate. We notify them that we will not let them rest,” Bukuru added.
The UN some time back reported that Burundi’s ruling party, National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) was arming youth to suppress and oppress opposition members.
This was coupled with arrests, intimidation and gruesome detentions.
Reports from Bujumbura now say that Nkurunziza is arming the combatants to crack on dissent and resume office for the third time.
Burundian government has repeatedly warned that supporters of Nkurunziza were ready to descend on the capital for cons-demonstrations.
Willy Nyamitwe, a top communication adviser in Nkurunziza’s office, didn’t mince words when clarifying that anti-third term demonstrators would be dealt with as required.
Nkurunziza sacks 10 anti-third term officials
A parallel report says Burundi’s ruling party has dismissed 10 senior party officials for “behaving like rebels” and opposing Nkurunziza’s bid for a controversial third term in office.
The dismissal came on heels of Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete’s visit to Bujumbura.
Kikwete went on record calling on Nkurunziza to abide by Arusha Accord that limits presidents to two terms in office.
Sources confirmed to us that there was increasing purging inside Burundi’s ruling party.
Last month, dozens of senior officials in Burundi’s ruling party urged Nkurunziza to abandon a quest for a third term this June to avoid renewed violence in the landlocked central African nation.
About 79 members of the CNDD-FDD Party wrote to Nkurunziza joining a rising chorus of critics saying he cannot run again under the terms of a 2000 deal to end years of fighting between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups.
“For the sake of peace and to avoid violence, we asked… Nkurunziza to drop any attempt for another third term,” they wrote in a letter signed by Leonidas Hatungimana, a former presidential spokesperson.
The party responded by sacking 10 initial signatories, including Nkurunziza’s spokesman, the party’s spokesperson, Onésime Nduwimana, three members of parliament and a provincial governor, newly-appointed CNDD-FDD spokesperson, Gelase Ndabirabe, told Reuters.
Any opposing voice is being fired from elected or local administration posts, according to our contacts.
Refugees flee Burundi reign of terror, cross to Rwanda
We are now told people have started fleeing Burundi and crossing to the neighboring Rwanda.
The Burundian ambassador to Rwanda, Amb. Alexis Ntukamazina, is said to have cried yesterday when he visited refugees, many of them kids, fleeing the ruling party’s iron hand.
The refugees are currently camped in Rwanda’s Bugesera district in Eastern Province, Rwanda.
They are about 500 Burundians who have so far fled the country with the latest group comprising of over 70 families, arriving in Bugesera District on Wednesday.
Most of them have been settled in a refugee transit centre in Biryo Cell, Gashora Sector.
Rwanda officials, representatives of humanitarian agencies, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), World Food Programme(WFP), the Burundian ambassador to Rwanda, Alexis Ntukamazina, and the head of the European Union Delegation to Rwanda, Micheal Ryan, visited the transit centre, yesterday, to assess the situation.
One of the refugees, Joselyne Mukamutara, from Kirondo Province, is quoted by New Times Rwanda saying she fled with her family following threats on her life by the ‘Imbonerakure’, an alleged youth wing of the ruling National Council for the Defence of Democracy–Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD–FDD) party which she claimed was secretly armed and trained.
“For several weeks we had been sleeping in bushes fearing for our lives. We had written death threats dropped on our door steps stating the date and time when we would be killed. So there was no reason to stay in Burundi. If the Imbonerakure can kill a policeman in my village Bugabiro, what guarantee do I have that they will not kill me?” Mukamutara added.
Amb Ntukamazina who heard the various testimonies from the refugees, said: “No one deserves to live as a refugee. I don’t think the Imbonerakure group is above the law.”
Nkurunziza hasn’t spoken on his intention to stand for the third time but the situation highly predicts so.