Over 780 families from Kigeri locality stage sit-in before Ombudsman’s office

More than 780 families from Kigeri locality of Ntahangwa commune in the north Bujumbura city have held a sit-in before the office of the Burundian Ombudsman this September 9th. They say the government is forcing them to leave their plots of land.

Hundreds of people held a sit-in near the Ombudsman office

At 10 a.m., hundreds of adult and young people gather near the office of the Burundian Ombudsman. They look desperate and tired. Among them are children who are supposed to be at school.

“We have been owners of Kigeri area since 1946,” says Déo Bugwingiri, one of the people who partook in the sit-in adding that there have never been any conflicts over the Kigeri lands since that time.

“Surprisingly, the government started building roads without our consent. Our farms were destroyed but we have got no compensation so far,” he says.

Mr. Bugwingiri calls on the government to stop expelling them from their place. “We were born in Bujumbura city and cannot go elsewhere,” he adds.
Emmanuel Nimbona, one of the people’s representatives from Kigeri locality says the Mayor of Bujumbura recently told them that they should leave because the area belongs to the government.

“The mayor told us to stop exploiting our plots of land because building activities were going to start. We want the Ombudsman to intervene,” he says.

The case was heard by the Special Court dealing with land cases and Kigeri people lost it.

“We later on appealed against the ruling in the Ministry of Justice,” he says. For him, the government should not tell them to leave while they are still waiting for the justice decision.

Mr. Nimbona says they have nowhere else to live.
Thirty minutes after the sit-in, the representatives of the people were called to talk with the advisors in charge of conflicts management in the office of the Ombudsman.

After almost two hours of meeting, representatives brought a half-reassuring answer.

“The Ombudsman’s advisors have listened to us and promised to contact all concerned institutions to solve the problem,” says Mr. Nimbona adding that the Ombudsman will answer them on Tuesday.

Juma Rukumbi, Spokesman for the Burundian Ombudsman says the office will study their case to find solutions.

After the meeting with the Ombudsman office, people went back home.