Who are vandals?

Tensions are running higher between members of the ruling party CNDD-FDD and those of CNL party in Murungurira area of Ntega commune in Kirundo province in the north of Burundi. Houses were vandalized on the night of Sunday, July 14. Both sides blame each other. The municipal administrator reassures.

Vandalized houses in Ntega commune

Philippe Ngabonziza, Administrator of Ntega commune says that six houses were ransacked in Murehe area. Five among the destroyed houses belong to members of the ruling CNDD-FDD party while one is owned by a member of the National Congress for Liberty (CNL), an opposition party.

Most of these houses had their roof tiles damaged and windows and doors demolished. Mr. Ngabonziza blames a group of CNL members for the crime. “They took advantage of the hours during which heads of households who are also members of the joint security committees were conducting night patrols to commit the crime.”

They demolished the home of one of their comrades in order to confuse people, says the administrator. He, however, assures that they fail. Mr. Ngabonziza says they were denounced by their political comrades. Four CNL members were arrested the next day. They are Paul Ndayisaba, Anicet Niyonzima, Alexandre Ntirandekura and Gahungu, the son of Uwayabonye. They are all members of CNL party. They were brought to the police station at Ntega commune center.

Inyankamugayo are not guilty

“This is a complete fabrication by members of the CNDD-FDD party youth wing (Imbonerakure) to discredit CNL members (Inyankamugayo),” says Pascal Mushengezi, the representative of CNL party in Murungurira area.

He refutes the Administrator’s allegations and gives his version of what happened. Everything started on Sunday, July 14. The provincial representative of CNL party organized a meeting with CNL members from all communes at Kirundo province center. When some of them went back in Murungurira area, they decided to share beer in a bar in the locality. The Imbonerakure, didn’t allow them to do so.
Faced with this provocation, the altercation started. “I received a phone call around 8 p.m. telling me that Imbonerakure and Inyankamugayo were bickering,” says Mushengezi.

After the clashes, they all went home. The next morning, Philippe Ngabonziza, the administrator of Ntega commune, Jean-Marie Mugumyankiko also known as Sindyibigori, the secretary of the CNDD-FDD party in Ntega and Imbonerakure carried out a raid in the area.

Four members of CNL party, accused of vandalizing houses, were then arrested. Since that day, many CNL members have been gripped by fear. Some supporters of Agathon Rwasa have not spent the night at home since this incident occurred for fear of reprisals.
Gérard Mberamiheto says he currently sleeps in the bush. “I try to avoid meeting the Imbonerakure as we quarrel every time we meet.”

He says he was beaten by the Imbonerakure when he was sipping on his banana wine, two months ago. They accused him of being a CNL member. His assailants were arrested and later on released.
Antoine Rwasa, meanwhile, is forced to hole up in his house. He and his family are threatened by the Imbonerakure. “I am wrongly accused of being part of the group that ransacked houses while I was sick. They invented a pretext to persecute me since they know that I will never join their party.”
Rwasa fled to Tanzania for two weeks in May.

He received a phone call telling him that the administrator had assured his family that he would not be prosecuted.
He fears that the administrator would not keep his promise. “Why are we still persecuted while we work legally?” wonders this father of seven children.

The situation is not alarming

Mushengenzi deplores the behavior of the communal secretary of the ruling party: “He caused the current political tension. He does not tolerate CNL members. Our members are beaten under his orders.”

Contacted to react to these accusations, he did not want to express himself.
In this regard, the administrator assures that the communal secretary of CNDD-FDD is a responsible man. He cannot in any way destabilize his area. He calls on Inyankamugayo (CNL party members) not to be alarmed arguing that members of different political parties coexist peacefully in his commune. “The area is populated by more than 2500 inhabitants. The situation cannot become tense because a dozen people have bickered.”

Four CNL members who were arrested on Monday, July 15 were transferred to the prosecutor’s office in Kirundo chief town on July 18.

Translated into English by Lorraine Josiane Manishatse