Ngozi : Clashes between CNDD-FDD and CNL party militants in Nyamurenza commune

Clashes erupted on Sunday, November 10 in Nyamurenza commune of Ngozi province, between activists of CNL and CNDD-FDD parties, on the occasion of the inauguration of the communal office by CNL party. Both parties accuse each other. The confrontations would have been followed by a “selective hunt” against CNL party members.

A group of Imbonerakure, with clubs, blocked the road to Inyankamugayo in Shoza locality.

The inauguration did not take place. Dieudonné Niyonzima, administrator of Nyamurenza commune, cancelled it late in the afternoon, around 2 p.m., for “security reasons.” The president of CNL party who was already on site could not deliver his speech. The activity was cancelled many hours later.

According to some sources, clashes began early in the morning on the entry points between Nyamurenza and the neighboring communes.” Members of the youth wing of the ruling party CNDD-FDD-Imbonerakure, were dispatched to block the Inyankamugayo (members of CNL party) from these communes, “says a CNL activist.

Initially, in a meeting on Friday, November 8, the administrator of Nyamurenza commune had formally forbidden the participation in these ceremonies by any other CNL activist who was not born in this commune, except the officials of the party in Ngozi province.

One of the CNL party officials at the commune level, who was present in the meeting, repeats the words of Dieudonné Niyonzima: “The ceremonies are only meant for you the militants of CNL party in Nyamurenza commune. The participation of any other guest requires the permission of the governor.”

According to him, Saleh Bizimana, the representative of the party led by Agathon Rwasa in Nyamurenza commune, replied that the party does not have the latitude to block those who would like to take part in the ceremonies. “We are unable to stop them. Blocking the roads is the work of the administration and the police.”

The violation of the “constraint”

The main clashes took place in Shoza and Jimbi localities. Different sources speak of hundreds of Inyankamugayo from Kiremba commune who were blocked in Shoza locality after crossing the valley between Nyamurenza and Kiremba.

It was around 8:30 a.m. when the Imbonerakure, all equipped with clubs and led by the head of the hill tried to block the crowd, says a resident of Shoza.

Self confident, although they were few in the crowd, they told these Inyankamugayo: “Following the decision of the administration of Nyamurenza commune, you cannot continue your way.”
Angry, these activists of CNL party arrested two of them, including the hill chief. In the meantime, the rest of the Imbonerakure had already run away. The two arrested men from the ruling party were reportedly beaten before being handed over to the administrator of Kiremba commune, who arrived at the scene a few minutes after the incident. He took them to the health center to receive medical care.

According to a local CNL party official, an abject failure of the local administration’s plan and the members of the ruling party aroused their hostility. “As the procession continued after this setback, on the other side, the Imbonerakure swore to take revenge.” A young man from the locality who witnessed the scene was taken aback by the “excessive zeal” of some Imbonerakure. “In view of their strength, preventing CNL party members from continuing their way was pure madness.”

The Imbonerakure “fiasco” in Shoza caused great frustration, says a local source. After the cancellation of the ceremonies, CNL militants who had come from Gashikanwa commune were ambushed in Jimbi on their way home. It was around 3:30 p.m. in Rutanga locality, says our source.

A scenario similar to that of Shoza occurred a few hours earlier. Unable to face the group of Inyankamugayo, these men opted for another strategy: throwing stones into the crowd. A certain Eric, an Imbonerakure native of Ngoma hill as sources say, would have launched a stone that hurt Désiré Niyonzima, one of the Inyankamugayo.

Outraged, the group of CNL members went in pursuit of the fleeing CNDD-FDD youth terrorized by the strength of their opponents.

According to our sources in Jimbi, among the attackers were, the president of Imbonerakure in Gashikanwa commune, a certain Jaguar, Mashorwe, Bagosora, Damien and Nimbona, Gafunderi, Macumi, Pascal Nduwayezu and Buregeya in addition to Eric.

The beating of “Jaguar” and the repression

For some residents of Nyamurenza, the administration and CNDD-FDD party were afraid of a large gathering of CNL party members.

While fleeing, Jaguar was arrested and beaten by Inyankamugayo before being taken to the police station in Ngoma locality. This is where the regional police commissioner met and arrested Manassé Vyizigiro, Prosper Nduwimana, Moses Haragirimana, Athanase Nyabenda and a certain Hayarwarugira, all CNL party activists. They are imprisoned in Nyamurenza commune dungeon.

The situation remained tense in different corners of the commune until the evening when other Imbonerakure youths led by Jean Bosco Ndayishimiye, the president of the Imbonerakure in Ngozi province arrived. Our sources speak about thirty Imbonerakure who crossed the Ngozi-Nyamurenza border. “These Imbonerakure had to ambush and attack the Inyankamugayo on their way to Nyamurenza,” says a resident of Rurama locality.

Interviewed, Jean Bosco Ndayishimiye categorically refutes this accusation and reverses the situation: “I was rather blocked and manhandled by Inyankamugayo while I was going to Gitare health center to see one of the Imbonerakure who had just been beaten.”

It is in one of the ambushes that a certain Nestor Ntunzwenimana lost his life. On his way back home on his motorcycle from the ceremonies, says sources, this Inyankamugayo from Ngoma area in Gashikanwa commune was blocked by the Imbonerakure from Shoza hill in Nyamurenza commune.

After they had beaten him to death, with machete blows, they left him on the roadside. “They probably thought he was already dead,” says his relative. Nestor Ntunzwenimana was found lying there the next day, unconscious. He was taken to Ngozi hospital where he shortly died.
His fellows CNL party activists denounce the inaction of the administration, the police and justice in this extrajudicial execution case. “It’s a way of legitimizing a crime.”

A wave of arrests

Following various clashes on Sunday in Nyamurenza commune, there was a hunt for CNL party members, including in neighboring communes, say sources from Ngozi on Monday, November 11.
Saleh Bizimana, head of CNL party in Nyamurenza commune, was arrested near the communal office at around 03:30 p.m. He was interrogated in front of the Nyamurenza investigation police officer before being transferred to Ngozi police station.

Dieudonné Niyonzima, the administrator who had banned the participation in the inauguration of the CNL party office to the Inyankamugayo who are not natives of Nyamurenza commune.

The representative of CNL party in Gashikanwa commune was also arrested in the afternoon of Monday. Christian Niteretse was arrested and then imprisoned in the dungeon of Gashikanwa commune with four other militants of CNL party in this commune at the end of a meeting organized by the governor of Ngozi province.

Apart from these detainees, our sources in Kiremba commune say that several militants of CNL party live in hiding. “They know they are wanted as they are accused of having attacked the Imbonerakure.”

In all these communes (Gashikanwa, Nyamurenza and Kiremba) there is growing fear since the incidents occurred.

Thirteen other CNL party activists (including the leader of this party at the communal level) were arrested on Sunday in the commune of Marangara (in the same province of Ngozi). During the night of the same day, “criminals” attacked the home of the wife left by the late Evariste Nyabenda.

According to sources, an Inyankamugayo from Burenza hill of this commune had succumbed to blows given by the Imbonerakure. According to our sources, these prisoners are the militants of CNL party who had participated in the funeral of the deceased.

Joined by telephone, the administrator of Nyamurenza commune did not want to answer Iwacu’s questions. Questioned, Dieudonné Niyonzima summarized his remarks in one sentence: “I am chairing the pacification meetings.”


Albert Nduwimana: “CNL members attacked a peaceful population”

The Governor of Ngozi province denies any reports of clashes between CNL and CNDD-FDD party militants. Speaking on Radio Isanganiro on Wednesday, November 13, Albert Nduwimana said there was no confrontation. CNL party militants attacked a peaceful population, he says. He explains that victims are only one side. “If there had been a confrontation between an organized gang and the CNL militants, the victims would have been on both sides.” He speaks of about 10 victims in Nyamurenza, 3 in Gashikanwa and 1 victim in Kiremba, all communes of Ngozi province.

The Governor of Ngozi province denounces the violation of the law in these activities organized by CNL party. He speaks of a “clause” that was reached after a meeting between politicians and the communal administration in Nyamurenza. “It stipulates that if it is a communal activity, it concerns the people of the same commune.” Nevertheless, CNL militants from Gashikanwa and Kiremba forcibly entered the commune, committing crimes on their way. He recalls the respect of the law. “When a clause is agreed upon in the meeting, it becomes like a law.”

Térence Manirambona: “The free movement of every citizen”

“All started with the decision of the administrator of Nyamurenza commune preventing the Inyankamugayo from neighboring communes from supporting their fellows in the activities of inaugurating new party offices ” , says Térence Manirambona, spokesman for CNL party.

For this politician, this measure hasn’t any legal basis. This representative of the people recalls that every citizen has the full right to move freely throughout the country. He wondered if a state of emergency was declared in Ngozi province to prevent people from one commune or area from going to another. “Nothing can explain why citizens are being deprived of their right if really peace and security reign.”

The CNL party spokesman denounces a wave of “unjust” arrests of the militants of his party. He indicates that more than thirty CNL militants in the communes of Nyamurenza, Kiremba and Marangara have been imprisoned in different prisons in Ngozi province since Sunday.
“And the arrests continue,” he adds.

For him, political intolerance is at its height. Térence Manirambona deplores that criminals, yet caught with clubs, who also caused deaths are not worried at all. He says different competent authorities should ensure political pluralism as stated in the constitution.

Jean Gaston Kwizera: “Nobody could dare to block their way”

The president of CNDD-FDD party in Nyamurenza commune argues that these Inyankamugayo had rather “decided to abuse any militant of CNDD-FDD they met in their way.” Jean Gaston Kwizera speaks about 7 injured Imbonerakure in Shoza area. According to him, the participants in these ceremonies had on them sticks and machetes as if they were preparing for a fight.

He denies the accusation that the Imbonerakure would have blocked the way to prevent CNL party members from continuing their way. “Besides the fact that they were made aware of political tolerance, no one could be able to block them. They were so many. Even the police commissioner and the communal administrator failed.”

“The preservation of security is fundamental for all”

CNL party officials in Ngozi province say they are concerned about the safety of the Inyankamugayo in the province. “Security is a crucial issue for everyone,” said the provincial representative and secretary of the party in a letter signed jointly and addressed to the governor of the province on Wednesday.

Through this correspondence whose copies were sent to the Ministers of the Interior, Justice and the national boss of CNL party, they denounce attacks against CNL party members. Beside more than thirty activists incarcerated, two have died due to beatings while many have fled following the waves of arrests.

Benjamin Hitimana and Jonas Nahimana (the two signatories) denounce an ominous political intolerance at a time when the multiparty system is recognized by the constitution. “We should live peacefully, with respect for freedom, as provided for by the Constitution and other legal texts”.

According to them, the activities of the CNL party are often disrupted, banned by the local administration without convincing reasons. They are particularly concerned about the requirements related to the location of their party offices, the deprivation of freedom of movement to members of the CNL party (Nyamurenza case), etc.

These CNL leaders ask the administration and the police to ensure respect for the freedom of opinion for all political parties. They insist on non-interference in the organization and functioning of the parties.

Benjamin Hitimana and Jonas Nahimana demand the release of all the Inyankamugayo, jailed for their political opinions. The perpetrators of crimes committed against the Inyankamugayo should also be arrested and held accountable.

They also call on militants of the ruling party “to stop fabrications” and foster peaceful coexistence between members of different political parties.

Story written by Edouard Nkurunziza and translated into English

by Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana