Abduction for political motives?

In the morning of Tuesday, 12 September, Léopold Habarugira, Executive member of UPD-Zigamibanga party, not officially recognized by the Government, was abducted. His family is worried. Reactions over his kidnapping arise from all sides.

Written by Agnès Ndirubusa & Rénovat Ndabashinze and translated by Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana.

Mr. Habarugira was abducted in Avenue Nyankoni.

Mr. Habarugira was abducted in Avenue Nyankoni.

It was in Nyakoni Avenue, near the Institute of Health Sciences and Community Development, in Mutanga Nord, Gihosha area, Ntahangwa commune where the abduction took place. Sources on the spot say Léopold Habarugira, aged 54, was walking with his wife. “It was around 7:30 a.m,” says a student from Université Lumière de Bujumbura who was going to study.

Suddenly, he continues, a blackish car with tinted windows pulled up in front of the couple. “We thought they were friends who stopped to greet them as the couple did not seem worried. There was a heavy traffic, pupils and students going to school, etc.” he said.

Four men, three in plain clothes and one in police uniform and armed with a rifle, got off the car, said a carpenter. He was going to his workshop at the place called Ku Kasoko. “These men caught the husband and brutally took him into their car in the eyes of his stupefied companion and passers-by.” The carpenter fears for Habarugira’s safety considering the way he was arrested. “It is sad! It’s high time such acts stopped in our country, “he said, before continuing his journey.

Another passer-by deplores the fact that such acts happen in the middle of the day while there are policemen in every corner of the city. “How do cars without number plates pass through all the police checkpoints? For him, there is little doubt that there would be an involvement of some police officers in this kind of operation.

” Shoot! “

Witnesses of the kidnapping say Mr. Habarugira tried to resist. “Stunned, some passers-by wanted to help him,” said another eyewitness. One of three men in plain clothes ordered the armed policeman: “Shoot! With this order, passers-by retreated, and the car started off towards Gikungu area.

Libérate Nzitonda, wife of Léopold Habarugira, said the car did not have a license plate. “Afterwards, I alerted the police, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the National Independent Commission on Human Rights (CNIDH).” Contacted in the morning of Wednesday, she said neither the police nor CNIDH approached her to inquire about the situation. “God alone knows the fate of my husband.” May God forgive those who abducted him.”

However, the police spokesman said on that day that they were not aware of the disappearance.

The witnesses speak of a scene of panic after this abduction. “I was coming out of my plot. I saw a woman screaming out loud: ‘They’ve just kidnapped him. “She was running towards Mount Zion sanctuary in Gikungu area, in tears and shivering,” said a man met near the Institute of Health Sciences and Community Development. He said he tried to stop the car to find out who the victim was, but to no avail. “This woman was trying to call, unsuccessfully, because she was trembling uncontrollably.” Later, he said he learned that it was a kidnapping of a politician.
Other sources said Habarugira had just returned from a three-day visit to Tanzania.

As a reminder, Zedi Feruzi, president of UPD-Zigamibanga party was assassinated on 23May 2015, in Ngagara, with his bodyguard. Two months later, Patrice Gahungu, spokesman for the same party, suffered the same fate at about 20 meters from his home, on 7 September 2015, in Gisandema area of Gihosha in Ntahangwa commune.


Chauvineau-Mugwengezo-300x234His party fears the worst

“All these cases of kidnapping orchestrated by Bujumbura are in line with the execution of a physical elimination plan of opponents,” says Chauvineau Mugwengezo, chairman of UPD-Zigamibanga party, a wing not officially recognized by the government. He asked the population to help locate the place where Léopold Habarugira would be. He urged the police to do their best to secure his immediate release. This opponent finally asks the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Burundi to do whatever it takes to find the traces of Léopold before anything worse occurs.

Kassim-300x261” Léopold Habarugira should be found. “

For Abdoul Kassim, president of UPD-Zigamibanga, “life is sacred and must therefore be protected. This politician close to the government asks the defense and security forces to do all they can to find him so that he can return to his family.

Pierre NkurikiyePolice appeal for witnesses

Police spokesman, Pierre Nkurikiye, said Léopold Habarugira’s wife went to the police station on Thursday to file a complaint. According to him, investigations are underway and the police appeal for witness: “Anyone who has information about this case is asked to notify to the nearest police station.”

Who is Léopold Habarugira?

Léopold HabarugiraLéopold Habarugira, 54, is a businessman and treasurer of UPD Zigamibanga party not recognized by the government. His family speaks of a jovial man. Politicians speak of someone who listens to everyone. He is a fervent Catholic, but very close to the Muslim community. Very successful in business from a young age, he decided to drop out at the end of the primary school to engage in commerce.

His business quickly prospered. He was born in 1963, in Kamenge area, Ntahangwa commune, north of Bujumbura and is the eldest of 7 children. He went into politics with the rebel movement CNDD-FDD.

He did not join the resistance movement in the bush but became one of the key fund-raisers for the party of the eagle (CNDD-FDD). A strong friendship links him with the former boss of that party Hussein Radjabu.

His wife became the private and confident secretary of the latter before becoming a senator in 2005. In 2007, Hussein Radjabu fell from grace. Léopold Habarugira, father of five children including three boys, and several other dignitaries close to Radjabu, left the ruling party to join UPD-Zigamibanga party in 2007.

His family said it was devastated by his kidnapping. His sister says she doesn’t know the motives behind his abduction: “My brother is a reputable trader and politician. We have no idea why he was kidnapped.” The whole family, she says, is waiting for his return.