Reign of terror: Who is next in Burundi assassinations?


Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza walks with military officials during the country’s Independence Day

The assassination of Burundi’s General Adolphe Nshimirimana, a former army Chief of Staff and head of Burundi’s Intelligence Service, has plunged the country into a state of fear and suspicion.

The late Gen Nshimirimana, according to multiple testimonies, is described simply as “an accomplished killer”.

He was a CNDD-FDD rebel fighter since the 1990s from bases in eastern DRC before relocating to Tanzania, writes a Ugandan analyst, Sarah Nalukenge.

In Tanzania, continues Nalukenga, Nshimirimana was a prominent figure in the refugee camps where he would gun down political opponents of CNDD-FDD.

In government, he headed the dreaded secret service where he is renown for kidnappings, murder and torture of political opponents.

The repeated scenes of unidentified floating dead bodies in Rivers, the killing of Nuns, human rights activists etc, were attributed to the Gen Adolf.

The extremely rich, ruthless secret service head, combat hardened but having no any formal education having grown up in exile in Congo, was Nkurunziza’s right hand man.

His manning of the secret service for decades, rising of the Imbonerakure, the putting down of protests, etc put him in a position of defending President Pierre Nkurunziza till death.

Reign of terror

Following the Sunday Bujumbura assassination, a reign of terror has descended on Burundi.

On the same night, of August 2, 2015, three policemen were gunned down in the town of Cibitoke province.

Cibitoke is the same province where rebels from Congo attacked Burundi only to be killed and pushed back at the peak of Bujumbura riots.

On Monday night according to Igihe news, loud explosions were heard south of Bujumbura.

Four casualties were recorded and the fourth in Jabe area.

The night was kicked off with the shooting of Claver Mbonimpa, a human rights activist who is still hospitalised in the capital.

Addressing the nation after the killing of his most trusted spy, Nkurunziza paid the latter a tribute for services rendered to the nation, and asked the people of Burundi to follow the example of wisdom, love and patriotism of the general.

His message was directed to the population of Kamenge which he accused of insurgency.

Abandoned cases of killings

One of the leaders of the anti-third term campaign of Nkurunziza, Pacifique Nininahazwe, chairman of Forum for awareness and development (a rights body), says many murders have gone un investigated in Nkurunziza’s time.

He cited the murder of the exchanger pacific brown Ndarishikanye in 2006, assassination of the anti-corruption activist Ernest Manirumva in April 2009, Gatumba massacres in September 2011, hundreds of executions of militants of the FNL after the elections in 2010, killings of three Italian sisters in September 2014, etc.

Nkurunziza’s seven days deadline given to the security services to investigate his aide’s killing (and not even to justice) gives the impression that the murderers are designated in advance and could become a pretext for a blind repression, says Nininahazwe.

He says in March 2009, Brigadier General Salum Ndikumana, second in command of the Burundi contingent in Somalia died in a plane crash, but Nkurunziza did not even move to the airport to greet the remains of his general.

In September 2009, major general Juvénal Niyoyunguruza, second in command of AMISOM was murdered by the al-Shabab Somalis, still Nkurunziza said nothing.

At least three times, the Burundian contingent in Somalia has suffered tremendous losses, Nkurunziza has never welcomed the remains of those whom he had sent out to fight for peace outside of Burundi.

In April 2009, all the Burundi and the diplomatic community have been shocked by the murder of the Vice-President of the Olucome Ernest Manirumva and a vigorous campaign to search for the truth about this murder lasted more than 5 years: Nkurunziza has never pronounced the name Ernest Manirumva.

Hundreds of citizens have been carried out from 2010 to 2013 because they had the wrong to belong to the FNL of Agathon Rwasa, a hundred young citizens have been killed since April 2015 just because they were protesting against the 3rd term, including the president of the Upd-Zigamibanga Zedi Feruzi.

It is said in the Gatumba massacres, investigations revealed a track towards the late Nshimirimana and the only key witness Nzarabu was murdered a few months later.

Who in next?

Analysts says Kazungu, the Bujumbura regional security Officer, Bnyoni – the head of secret service, Ndakugarika – the Bujumbura Regional Police Commander, and President Nkurunziza could be next on the line of assassinations.

The loss of his intelligence chief has already been described as a big blow to Nkurunziza’s hold onto power.

Last month, Nkurunziza held elections described by international community, EAC and AU as not free or fair and emerged winner, giving himself a third term in office.

A hashtag seeking a hand-elfie is trending on Twitter seeking to #FreeBurundi from an #Illegal3rdterm through a #VirtualProtest started by @HLNLori.


He has already suffered armed rebellion and a coup attempt on his government.

While condemning the murder of Adolphe, the United States called on all sides to renounce violence and to redouble their efforts to engage in a transparent, inclusive, and comprehensive political dialogue.

“The path forward must address foundational issues, including respect for human rights, freedom of the press and other fundamental freedoms, and respect for the Arusha Agreement and its power-sharing provisions. Restoration of dialogue is urgent, and all parties must work together in pursuit of a consensus, peaceful path forward for the people of Burundi,” read a statement from Department of State.

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