We are verifying a report indicating that the East African Community [EAC] Secretary General, Amb Richard Sezibera, was Wednesday knocked by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s Presidential Guard outside the country’s Senate.
The unfortunate incident happened in the presence of Ugandan Defence Minister, Crispus Kiyonga.
Kiyonga was last in Burundi in July 2015 while standing in for President Yoweri Museveni who was mediating the country’s political crisis caused by Nkurunziza’s third term bid.
Regional heads of state appointed Museveni mediator in the hope of ending the crisis characterised by street protests, killings, coup and armed rebellion.
The talks collapsed and were later suspended.
Today, Kiyonga returned to Bujumbura since the suspension of the July talks.
Sezibera denied entry, humiliated
Kiyonga arrived at the country’s Senate in Bujumbura in the company of the EAC SG Sezibera.
Sezibera allegedly tried to force himself into a senate meeting where he wasn’t invited.
Burundi security manning the parliament building tosses the regional top figure telling him off that he could not be allowed to enter.
A wild rumour claims that Sezibera was even punched by an overzealous Burundian Member of Parliament.
This is no evidence to support this claim and we cannot independently verify it.
However, after being denied entry to the Senate, it was later explained simply that Sezibera was not on the list of people expected, according to RFI senior journalist, Sonia Rolley.
A senior Rwandan journalist, Albert Rudatsimburwa, broke the news of Sezibera being knocked by a presidential guard.
Rudatsimburwa said Burundi had confirmed the incident without giving details of what happened next.
In September 2015, Leontine Nzeyimana, Burundian Minister for the Presidency in charge of the affairs of the East African community took up arms against Sezibera.
In an interview with Rwanda’s Isango Star Radio, Nzeyimana accused the Sezibera of plotting to exclude Burundi EAC.
Sezibera in turn clarified that these were the requirements of donors caused by forcing the July election won by President Pierre Nkurunziza and declared null by world powers.
She said it was incomprehensible that all meetings be relocated while the EAC Council of Ministers had agreed that these meetings are held in Burundi.
According to Nzeyimana, all standing committees of the EAC are already at work in the countries where they have to work, but the health and research committee in Bujumbura has not yet started its activities for lack of means.
Sezibera denied the accusations saying he had a letter from the German cooperation affirming to him that Burundian officials will no longer be covered by the fees that are given to us by GIZ.
He recalled even talking with Burundian officials who are with at the Secretariat General of EAC about the matter.
German cooperation through its cooperation agency GIZ aid, threatened to withdraw help to Burundi following Nkurunziza’s pursuit of third term.
Meanwhile, Belgium has decided to review its bilateral cooperation with Burundi while Netherlands has already signalled they will not contribute in the area of security and defense of Burundi’s security organs.
As for the meetings that Burundi should shelter, Sezibera says nobody ignores the events that are in Burundi, the EAC delegations should not be a fait accompli.