Why Museveni cannot mediate Burundi crisis


President Museveni meets Burundi Ex-Presidents H.E Domitien Ndayizeye and H.E Sylvestre Ntibantunganya who took part in Burundi peace dialogue as Eminent persons

When Museveni took over power in Uganda in 1986, his army was composed of quite a good number of Rwandese Tutsi refugees.

At the time Burundi was being ruled by the minority Tutsi government and army.

Oppressed Burundian Hutu with backing of the then Hutu government of Rwanda were struggling against the minority Tutsi Burundi government.

In 1990 the Rwandese Tutsi refugees in Museveni’s army under the RPF invaded the Hutu dominated government of Rwanda.

The RPF found an ally in the Tutsi government of Burundi under Major Pier Buyoya who had three years earlier deposed a fellow Tutsi Jean Baptiste Bagaza. Museveni offered sanctuary to the deposed Bagaza in Kampala.

Museveni did all he could to ensure that RPF overthrows the Hutu government in Rwanda.

However in 1993, the RPF was about to suffer a setback when a Hutu won Burundi’s first democratic elections.

Two months later, the Hutu President Ndadaye was slaughtered by the Tutsi dominated army and the assassins (Lt Kamaana and another) are reported to have fled to Uganda where they secured protection.

In 1994, the RPF overthrew the Hutu government of Rwanda culminating into the genocide both in Rwanda and Eastern Congo.

During Congo’s first war in the late 1990s, the Tutsi dominated armies of both Rwanda and Burundi together with their Ugandan counterparts participated in joint operations to overthrow Congo’s Mobutu Sseseko.

However, this new found alliance was interrupted by the increased political agitation by Hutu militants against the Tutsi dominated government of Burundi.

It is widely believed among Burundians that Museveni sent some units of his army to the aid of the then Tutsi dominated army.

However, what is in not in dispute is that some individual Uganda army mercenaries were captured while fighting on the side of the Hutu rebels.

When Museveni was the appointed as the Chairman of the Great Lakes Initiative on Peace in Burundi, he openly demonstrated that he was biased.

After the elapse of the Transitional Period in October 2004, the Tutsi dominated government and army under UPRONA was not comfortable with some of the provisions of the peace agreements pertaining to the 2005 general elections.

Museveni attempted to give instructions in favour of UPRONA but the Chairman of the Burundi’s electoral Prof Paul Ngarambe outrightly stood his ground and rejected them.

Museveni even wanted to send his own Electoral Commission from Uganda to Burundi but this too was rejected.

In another fruitless attempt, Museveni instructed the Chairman of Burundi’s electoral body not to declare the results of the elections before he had sent them to Museveni for scrutiny but Prof Ngarambe out-rightly rejected this too.

In May 2008, Museveni using the same position issued a ten days ultimatum for the last rebel group leader Agathon Rwasa and his group to leave Tanzania and return to Burundi.

This was following a series of rounds of negotiations mediated by Museveni.

Hutu in Burundi gained political and military control of the state through both fighting and negotiations.

The current crisis in Burundi centers around the incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza seeking another term in office after serving his two five year terms.

Some sources reveal that there is an invisible external hand in the name of Rwanda bent on destabilizing Burundi.

Bloody clashes between protesters and the security forces culminated into an attempted military coup.

The EAC heads of State appointed Museveni to mediate a political solution to the current standoff.

Museveni is serving his 29th year in power after amending the constitution in 2005 to scrap two term limits and is now seeking another five year term (2016 – 2021).

He has brutally suppressed all forms of political dissent in Uganda for his life presidency project.

On his way to Burundi for mediation, he made a stopover in Rwanda for consultations first.

In Burundi he told the worrying parties not to focus on power and term limits but wealth creation.

He commended the government for disarming the ruling party youth paramilitary group thus: “Guns should be a monopoly of the state which is accountable to the people.”

In Uganda he has ordered the training and arming of civilians and his ruling party is busy passing out thousands of party militias in the name of Crime Preventers ahead of the 2016 elections.

He challenged the Burundi opposition thus: “you are blaming the ruling party but you have your own problems; why don’t you field one candidate?”

He further challenged the opposition to produce evidence to the effect that elections are not well organised.

He openly opposed the idea of a transitional government arguing that “………..it sends a bad signal about stability of the country.”

His Minister of Defense is continuing to chair the mediation efforts while violence in the capital and armed clashes with a rebel group at the border with Rwanda rages on.

Museveni lacks the moral ground and his choice is a contempt of the intelligence of Burundians.

However, for the ruling party in Burundi it has found a partner in suppressing human rights, constitutionalism, and rule of law in general.

Obviously Museveni is mindful of the fact that should those Burundians opposed to Nkurunziza’s third term by any means succeed, it will set a bad precedent for his own presidency which is in a similar but worse situation.

Therefore, Museveni’s mediation is Burindi will not produce anything positive save for buying time for Nkurunziza to retain the presidency thus worsening the situation.

There is a high possibility that mediation provides him with a window of opportunity to covertly avail his own Special Forces Group to the current Burundi presidency; as was the case with Southern Sudan.

Sarah Nalukenge, the author, is a social and political commentator

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