Ex-President Buyoya targeted by Burundi Justice

An arrest warrant has been issued against Former Burundi President Pierre Buyoya and sixteen former senior military officials and civilians. They would be involved in the assassination of President Ndadaye. Buyoya denounces a political manoeuvre.

Ndadaye case was reopened in court.

Ndadaye case was reopened in court.

The case was most commented on by Burundians. The Attorney General of the Republic surprised everyone by deciding on the reopening of the case on the assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye.
Four former high-ranking officers s were arrested and 17 international arrest warrants were issued. 25 years after the assassination of the first democratically elected president, a name was mentioned : that of President Pierre Buyoya.

For the Attorney General of the Republic, elements of the investigation already available reveal that these people could have been involved in this crime in its preparation, during its execution and even after its commission.

” These international arrest warrants are issued so that the countries that host them can arrest and extradite them to Burundi so that they can explain themselves on the facts alleged against them, ” Said Sylvestre Nyandwi.

The prosecutions prompted a reaction from the President of the African Union Commission. He immediately referred to this case in a statement he released on Saturday, December 1.
Moussa Faki urges all the actors concerned to abstain from any political or judicial measure likely to complicate the search for a consensual solution in accordance with the spirit of national reconciliation. ” Dialogue is the only way out of the crisis. ”
President Buyoya breaks the silence

An international arrest warrant was issued against Pierre Buyoya .

An international arrest warrant was issued against Pierre Buyoya .

After a few days, President Buyoya issued a press release where he said he was stunned by these serious accusations. He talks about political manipulation and a new diversionary manoeuvre aimed at making unresolved painful issues to be forgotten. According to him, the government has deliberately chosen not to get involved in the refusal of the dialogue to solve the crisis it has caused itself and that it has been fueling since 2015. ” It would be difficult to imagine that the regime would be able to carry out legal proceedings with a minimum of guarantees and credibility.”

On BBC radio last Wednesday, the former president went further. He talked about ethnic revenge and a dangerous step that will break the entire bond that links the Burundian people. Pierre Buyoya dismisses Bujumbura’s extradition request. ” I am not the first under arrest warrant and to my knowledge; no one has been extradited to Burundi. ”

Caption : An international arrest warrant was issued against Pierre Buyoya .

General outcry from Bujumbura

Press releases by Moussa Faki and Pierre Buyoya provoke strong reactions from Bujumbura and social media.
The Ambassador of Burundi to the United Nations, Albert Shingiro, calls on the international community not to infantilize Burundi by interfering in its affairs. According to him, President Buyoya uses blackmail. ” In criminal law, criminal responsibility is individual. It is a consecrated principle.
It is neither familial, ethnic nor regional. Wanting to mix criminal responsibility with family, ethnicity or region to escape justice is referred to as blackmail,” he said.

Pascal NyabendaBurundi National Assembly rejects the arguments put forward by Moussa Faki who believes that this action by the judiciary would be likely to complicate the search for a consensual solution. The Speaker of the National Assembly, Pascal Nyabenda asks that the Burundian justice should be let to do its work. ” The Burundian justice must continue to carry out thorough investigations in order to eradicate impunity”.

In any case, Bujumbura may not let go as the case has been is reopened. Sylvestre Ntibantunganya , a close associate to the assassinated president, meanwhile expresses support for prosecutions. He believes that Burundians have the right to know the truth about the preparation and execution of the assassination of President Ndadaye.

For President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, the assassination of President Ndadaye is the cause of all the difficulties that Burundi has faced since then until today.

He does not exclude the hypothesis of a political exploitation : “It has always been said that, on the one hand, the file will be pulled from drawers when needed for political motives, and that others will use politics, on the other hand, to stifle the judicial investigation into the case.”

President Melchior Ndadaye was the first democratically elected president in Burundi. He came to power on 10th July 1993. He was assassinated after 102 days during a bloody coup of October 21, 1993. Pontien Karibwami , the then Speaker of the National Assembly, Gilles Bimazubute ,Deputy-Speaker of the National Assembly as well as Juvenal Ndayikeza, the Minister of Territorial Administration and Communal Development were also killed .

This coup unleashed inter-ethnic violence throughout the country and triggered a civil war which killed, according to estimates, between 50, 000 (figure given by the International Commission of Inquiry of NGOs ) and 100, 000 (figure given by the delegates of the High Commissioner for Refugees ) .

Written by Agnès Ndirubusa and translated by
Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana