Movement against President Nkurunziza’s third term goes non-violent

Protesters and police officers facing each other before the demonstrations of 2015 turned violent

Protesters and police officers facing each other before the demonstrations of 2015 turned violent

The movement “Halte au Troisième Mandat” [Halt to the Third Term], a collective of Civil Society Organizations campaigning against President Nkurunziza’s “unconstitutional” third term, has launched this Sunday 26 March a programme of education to active non-violence to help actors overcome fear that the movement says resulted from repression.

In a communiqué issued this Sunday, the movement says “terror and resignation are progressively taking hold in Burundi” as a result of “the bloody repression against mass protest over the third term”.

Vital Nshimirimana, the exiled chairman of a now banned rights group FORSC, a big name in the “Halte au Troisième Mandat” movement, says the programme named “Tsinda Ubwoba” [Overcome fear] is intended to “raise individual and collective awareness that every Burundian has a role to play to prevent the country from sinking into terror and dictatorship”.

According to the communiqué, the programme was launched one month before the second anniversary of the beginning of “peaceful” mass protests that started on 26 April 2015.

The protests turned violent and became fraught with crashes between protestors and the police, death and arrests of a number of demonstrators, road barring, the burning of cars by protesters and the like.

The mass protests reached their climax on 13 May with a coup attempt. The repression that followed the failure of the coup put an end to the protests. Nshimirimana says members of the Halt to the Third Term movement “were hunted down, some have been killed, others subjected to enforced disappearances while others were forced into exile”.

Messages of the Tsinda Ubwoba programme will be broadcast for three months on the web and social media.

For the Ministry of Home Affairs and the police, the launching of the programme is a non-event. This is because the Halte au Troisième Mandat movement “does not exist in Burundi”.

Thérence Ntahiraja, Spokesman for the Ministry of Home Affairs, says the civil society organisations have been banned as they didn’t abide by their status and illegally collaborated with political parties in leading “insurrections and attempt to overthrow institutions”.

“The police cannot react on a document written by an organisation [Halte au Troisième Mandat] that does not exist in Burundi”, says Pierre Nkurikiye, the National Police Spokesman.