Burundi President pleads for “fair trial” for Iwacu journalists in jail

After a largely positive assessment he made for almost 15 years as the president of the Republic of Burundi, the recommendations for his successor, Pierre Nkurunziza shed light on the current people’s concerns during a publhttps://www.iwacu-burundi.org/englishnews/wp-admin/profile.phpic broadcast. It was last Thursday, December 26, in Gitega province. Here are some of the answers he gave.


• President Nkurunziza demands that the trial of the 4 Iwacu journalists take place as soon as possible

According to President Pierre Nkurunziza, there have been positive achievements in all areas during his 14 years in power. It was during these years, he said, that Burundians saw more prosperity in terms of socio-economic and political development. “None of our predecessors had made such progress.”

He said the result was achieved mainly due to the participation of the population in political decisions. “We spoke once, they heard 5 times.”

It’s particularly in the preservation of peace and development. For him, at least 90% of Burundians have remained loyal during the last 15 years.
This meant that Burundi enjoys financial autonomy. “Today, almost 90% of the general state budget comes from internal revenues whereas it was previously financed from outside at 50 or 60%”.

For 15 years, Burundians have been able to demonstrate their patriotism by participating in the construction of their country.

“Burundians have contributed more than 80% to the construction of infrastructures,” says the Burundian president, citing the construction of markets, hotels, industries, etc.
Among the obstacles encountered, President Nkurunziza speaks of foreign interference, pointing at Rwanda among other things. “We don’t have any internal problem.”

He says he led a merciless fight against this interference and regrets that it still persists. “If it hadn’t been that, we would already be very advanced in terms of development.”
Pierre Nkurunziza invites his successor to invest in patriotism. According to him, present and future generations should be imbued with ancestral values to achieve development. He mentions the return to the customs of ancestors. “Development is impossible without culture.”

Among other priorities, the President of the Republic recommends the continuation of the truth and reconciliation process. Burundians need to know the challenges, the obstacles encountered by their ancestors to move forward instead of experiencing the same history.

The incarcerated Iwacu journalists …

• Christine Kamikazi, Térence Mpozenzi, Agnès Ndirubusa and Egide Harerimana have been in prison since October 22, 2019

For the question of Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Térence Mpozenzi and Egide Harerimana, four Iwacu Journalists imprisoned in Bubanza since October 22, Burundi president says that he cannot interfere in a case which is already before the court.
“Although he is supreme magistrate, the President of the Republic cannot interfere in a trial which has not yet been decided upon.” He believes in the principle of power separation and the independence of justice.

Pierre Nkurunziza nevertheless asks that the trial be ended as soon as possible. “They should look for lawyers, present evidence before the court and be tried fairly. At our level, we only intervene when there is no possibility to make an appeal.”

“Rwanda attacked Burundi”

The Burundian president calls on Burundians to be thoughtful about the “aggression of Rwanda” against Burundi. Pierre Nkurunziza is clear about the attack perpetrated in Mabayi commune of Cibitoke province last November: “It was not the Rwandan soldiers who attacked Burundi, it was rather Rwanda that attacked Burundi,” he says, adding: “We have all the evidence “.

The Burundi Head of State clarifies: “It is not a military position which was attacked by Rwanda. It is rather Burundi which was attacked”. Burundians must understand this: “There is an enemy who attacked Burundi. And this is not the first attack.” He says there is evidence that the attackers in Ruhagarika and Musigati were all from Rwanda.

The supreme commander of the defense forces says that Burundi does not have a belligerent culture. “However, if we are attacked, we defend ourselves and we do it so well. Those who have ears should hear.”

The closing of the bars

People who took part in the public broadcast held in Gitega Province

“The closing of bars at 9 pm will have no negative impact on the economy,” said President Pierre Nkurunziza. He believes that consumers can still order their drinks and have them at home. For him, joy is necessary, but in complete safety.

It’s the same for young people who transfer money (offering Ecocash or Lumicash services) or airtime under parasols in the city of Bujumbura. “Most of them were not known by the administration” Pierre Nkurunziza says that everything must be regulated to preserve security. “Let’s do our business in safety because trade is impossible without it.”

The impact of moral meetings…

According to President Nkurunziza, the moralizing meetings organized in recent years for the various strata of the population have had good results. Since these meetings, he explains, Burundi has organized three elections with its own funds. He talks about the 2015 elections, the 2018 constitutional referendum and the upcoming elections. “The Burundians contributed according to their means because they understood the importance of being Burundians”.

For him, it is also thanks to these meetings that there was a large electoral participation in the previous constitutional referendum. “Bujumbura city was the fourth while it always ranked last in the other elections. It means that people have finally understood the message given to them. ”

Finally, Burundians are doing whatever it takes to develop their country. For President Nkurunziza, the various infrastructures including universities, hotels, businesses and stadiums prove that Burundians are gradually becoming patriots.

The state of play in the “zero tolerance” policy

For President Nkurunziza, the policy of zero tolerance on corruption has been successful. He sticks in particular to the financing of the general state budget. “Before this policy, the internal funds did not exceed 48%. Today we are at 90%.”

This is due to good fiscal education. According to him, Burundi Revenue Authority went from 9 thousand taxpayers in 2014 to 97 thousand in 2019. “There has been a change in behavior and the results are good”.

In addition, corruption and related offenses are severely punished. He speaks of more than 4,000 cases in justice while a thousand others have already been handled since the introduction of this policy. The embezzled funds (over BIF 6 billion) were returned to the state’s coffers. “We are reaching a satisfactory level, but we must take another step. The beginning is often difficult.”

Presentation of assets by the authorities

President Pierre Nkurunziza says he is ready to respect the principle of declaring assets at the start and at the end of office. “We are prepared for it. We will do it at the end of our term.”

He expressed satisfaction that other authorities had also done so. “It is a policy of transparency that has been well followed by my government.” For him, those who would say that the Burundian president is among the richest presidents in the world would only be liars.
“All our assets are located in Burundi and not abroad. If there are accounts on my name overseas, that they be frozen,” he says, citing cows, goats, chickens, vehicles as his assets. “We are able to prove their origin,” he says.

Story written by Edouard Nkurunziza and translated into
English by Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana