New lease of life with President “NEVA”

The elected president, Evariste Ndayishimiye, was sworn in on Thursday 18 June at Ingoma stadium in Gitega province. However, the shadow of his predecessor, Pierre Nkurunziza, still hovers over. Apart from the former President of the Republic of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, no foreign Head of state attended the ceremonies. In his speech, no sensational measures were announced. But the population said they felt one as a desire for reconciliation of Burundians.

President Evariste Ndayishimiye being sworn in

The streets, the monuments of Prince Louis Rwagasore and that of President Melchior Ndadaye were painted. Security officers were patrolling everywhere. The Pupils went to school. Gitega market could not be open during the early hours. “Normally, we open at 7a.m. The authorities told us to open at 2 p.m.,” said the residents who were waiting close to the market.

All lanes leading to Ingoma stadium were highly secured by soldiers, police and other people in civilian uniform. The streets of the town of Gitega were teeming with people. Some were wearing shirts made from identical loincloths (Igitenge). They sat in the stadium based on their provinces of origin. It was difficult to enter when one did not wear the shirt planned for the ceremony. Some people were turned back by security officers. They returned frustrated. “We would have been happy if we had seen our Samurarwa (heir) from Gitega”.

First challenger of the president-elect absent in the ceremonies

At each entry, Red Cross agents had disinfectants. They wore masks. There were long lines of people at each entry to the Ingoma stadium. Hand washing kits were installed at each entrance. It was impossible to enter without washing hands.

Red Cross Burundi workers demanded social distancing, but it was difficult. The masters of ceremonies constantly reminded guests to leave a space between them, at least 50 cm, but in vain.

The guests kept coming. The moderators kept repeating instructions. Only a few people had worn masks.

Around 10 a.m., the Ombudsman, the 2nd and the 1st Vice-President of the Republic arrived. The President of the Senate and that of the National Assembly followed.

The president of the National Congress for Liberty (CNL), Agathon Rwasa, who came 2nd in the last presidential election of 20 May was absent.

However, the other unsuccessful candidates for this election were present. Léonce Ngendakumana of Sahwanya FRODEBU party, Domitien Ndayizeye of RANAC coalition, the independent candidates Dieudonné Nahimana and Francis Rohero as well as the former president Sylvestre Ntibantunganya attended the ceremonies. Another absence was noticed: that of the former First lady, Denise Nkurunziza. “It’s understandable,” commented the guests. The president of the CENI, Pierre Claver Kazihise, and his team were on site.

The eight Catholic bishops who make up the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Burundi (CECAB) and the other representatives of religious denominations were also present. Some ambassadors accredited to Burundi were there, too. Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli sent his vice president, former president Jakaya Kikwete. There were also envoys from Egypt, Equatorial Guinea and Congo Brazzaville

The swearing in ceremony starts

The president-elect arrived at around 11:30 a.m. He did not pass on the red carpet.
Prayers were said by the various representatives of religious denominations. The Constitutional Court followed. Before calling the president-elect to be sworn-in, its president recalled the electoral process and the victory of the ruling party candidate, Evariste Ndayishimiye.

The Catholic Bishops and other religious leaders praying for the new president.

Before the president-elect was sworn in, the moderator, Gaspard Baratuza, called on the 8 Catholic bishops and other representatives of religious denominations to come in the middle of the stadium. They formed a circle and the president-elect knelt inside. In his prayer before the swearing in of the elected president, the Archbishop of Gitega, Bishop Simon Ntamwana, called the successor of Pierre Nkurunziza to “always be ready to receive the wisdom of the Lord like Solomon.”

(…) “Blessed are those who bring peace, for they will be called sons of God! (…) Be sure, you are the son of God, capable of bringing peace to Burundians, you know how much we need it, give us peace, and seek it with all your heart…”

(…) “May the Lord enlighten you so that you do good in Burundi, so that you strengthen love among the Burundians. Repatriate the refugees, so that these intelligence people living abroad can help us fight the misery in which Burundi has fallen, so that they put their genius together to develop the country.”

“Restore good relations with the outside world, so that they are beneficial for us”. Only Bishop Ntamwana spoke. Applause burst from everywhere. “These prelates are unpredictable. They dare,” said a guest.

The new president was sworn in holding the country’s flag and that of unity. At the beginning, the sentences did not come out. He hesitated. Perhaps it was stage fright. “Before GOD the Almighty, in front of the Burundian people, the only holder of national sovereignty, I, Evariste Ndayishimiye, President of the Republic of Burundi, swear loyalty to the Charter of National Unity, to the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi and the law and commit myself to devoting all my force to the defense of the superior interests of the nation, to ensuring national unity and cohesion of the Burundian people, peace and social justice. I undertake to combat any ideology and practice of genocide and exclusion, to promote and defend the individual and collective rights and freedoms of the person and to safeguard the integrity and independence of the Republic of Burundi.»

After these words, the delirious crowd cheered on President Evariste Ndayishimiye’s speech before being given the symbols of power by the members of the Constitutional Court.

Four howitzers were installed at the entrance to the stadium. After the swearing-in, 21 shots were fired in the political capital. The moderators warned the population not to panic. Slight damage was observed in surrounding houses. Windows were shattered. Children hid under the beds. Inside the stadium, some cheered, others were really scared. Two people passed out and were taken care of by the Red Cross. Then, President Ndayishimiye delivered a speech which will last approximately 2 hours.

Praise to the Supreme Guide to Patriotism

President Evariste Ndayishimiye read a long speech that very much resembled a program. Highlights.

Gunshots were heard in the political capital Gitega

“The previous elections have strengthened unity among all the people. Proof that, united, we are capable,” said Evariste Ndayishimiye. Afterwards, a minute of silence was observed in memory of the late Pierre Nkurunziza. “We will always remember him. He leaves us a country that is self sufficient.”

President Ndayishimiye then invited the present assembly to applaud the late Nkurunziza strongly and for long. That name recurred in his speech.

According to him, Nkurunziza had inherited a destroyed, disorganized country. “He leaves us a rejuvenated and peaceful country. As proof, this is the first time that Burundi has lost a President of the Republic and that the situation remains calm. Thank God. “He took the opportunity to further console once the wife of Pierre Nkurunziza, his mother, his brothers and sisters, relatives, all Burundians and friends of Burundi.

Thanks were also extended to the CNDD-FDD party for the confidence it placed in him. He promised not to disappoint them and added that he was committed to the development Burundi.
According to him, the 2020 elections have just confirmed that democracy has already taken root irreversibly in Burundi. He recalled that in the past, whenever Burundians tried to organize elections, there had been disturbances. He cites the years 1961 and 1993.
2020 should be, according to him, an opportunity to look at to prepare for a good future.

The colonizers were accused

“In ancient Burundi, Burundians were united. They shared everything. They had one God, one king. They had respect for leaders and for human life,” he recalled. He compared the first king of Burundi with the biblical Moses.

According to President Ndayishimiye, it was with the colonizers that the socio-cultural traditions, good morals, were destroyed. “And that’s when the first coup took place. Thanks to the bravery of the Burundians, independence was recovered”.

Unfortunately, he regrets, there have always been some Burundians who have become servants of the colonizers. He refers to the 1961 PDC, ADC-Ikibiri in 2010 and CNARED in 2015. Those announcements were followed by applause.

According to him, Burundians must avoid falling back into these traps: “We have already entered a new era. This step taken today is one of the victories to save Burundi started by an armed struggle under the command of His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza.”

He admits that this fight has caused many deaths and sacrifices. “No family has been spared,” he said, asking the crowd to stand up for a minute of silence for the people who went missing.
President Ndayishimiye said that the 15-year reign of the ruling party has made it possible to realize that the colonizers are still there. He rebels against the provocation of the international community. According to him, they call (the colonizers) for the respect of human rights while in their countries, there are many deaths. “Some even shoot children in class at the time when same sex marriage exists in those countries. They ask for justice while at home they practice euthanasia and abortion.”

He left them a message: “May these foreigners let us rebuild Burundi by strengthening good governance and promoting of human rights based on the education, customs and culture of our country.”

According to him, good governance starts with the establishment of a ” unifying ”government”. This begins with a president of the Republic, who loves his people and who is concerned about their survival.

He promised that he came to set up this government in accordance with the Constitution. He believes that with God he shall achieve many things: “Do not be afraid. I know what awaits me. I come to strengthen the independence of Burundi. Let the Burundians feel free and protected. ”

Dialogue ahead

“If there are some who still underestimate Burundi, let them be reassured. All Burundians are combatants ready to defend their country.” According to the president, dialogue is in the Burundian culture.

Referring to certain proverbs like “Umutwe umwe ntiwigira inama ” ” imiti ikora ikoranye (two heads are better than one)”, he underlined that from the earliest times, Burundians privileged dialog to avoid conflicts. “May no foreigner meddle in Burundian affairs saying they plead for a dialogue between Burundians.”

He said “no Burundian will be prevented from expressing their opinions, whether in Burundi or abroad. As of today, dialogue must be privileged. Let everyone express their position, their point of view. ”

He even calls those who are in exile to return home to build the country. He recelled that all Burundians are equal before the law. The new President of the Republic claims to be there to uphold this principle. For him, dialogue between all Burundians, political parties and the government will be a priority.

For the future government, or other leaders, President Ndayishimiye promises people who are worthy of the name, who deserve it and who work for the interests of people, those who are being led.

President Ndayishimiye indicated that there must be justice for each citizen to feel reassured and protected. He says that corrections will be made in this domain. For him, the justice which reassures everyone is needed. “We wish that those who break the law be punished without distinction of rank or position.” He announces a fierce fight against corruption both in the public and the private sector.

Relations with other countries

The President of the Republic promised that the police and security forces will continue to participate in peacekeeping missions. This requires, according to him, training, support to make them more effective and professional. President Ndayishimiye said that Burundi wants to show the world that it has a role to play in the development of the world. “Burundi is not there to be assisted or to be a burden for the international community.” For him, Burundi has learned from its past.

He appreciates the good relations with African countries and organizations. “We need to collaborate with other states because we have a lot in common.”
In the event of a misunderstanding between the states, President Ndayishimiye said that dialogue must be established and not force. He called on African countries to avoid anything that could damage relations between them.

He also said he dreamt of developing land transport to allow more friendships and visits between people from different countries. He called on all the refugees to return to the country. For those who live abroad for work, he asked them to be good ambassadors. He asks neighboring countries to be real neighbors.

Burundi to open doors to investors

During his term, President Ndayishimiye calls on investors to come to Burundi: “We want Burundi to attract the world.”

The increase in production is not left out. The aim is to satisfy the local market and sell abroad. Via the “Ewe Burundi urambaye” project, President Ndayishimiye announced a program to protect water sources by planting fruit trees.

“We are going to multiply the companies, the factories processing agro-pastoral production,” he promises. And to achieve this, he indicates that agronomic and scientific research will be sustained. President Ndayishimiye talked about a project to build seven hydroelectric dams and the use of solar energy to keep attracting investors.

About housing problems, he said that his government intends to resolve this issue through hire-purchase.

He also said that each commune will have a hospital. The free health care measure shall be extended to retirees. This will be doubled with a pension equivalent to the salary of the person concerned. In this period of the Covid-19 pandemic, he invited all Burundians to play a role in limiting contamination.

Translated into English by Emmanuel Ngendakumana