Burundi army commander 'missing'

2010-09-09 21:09

Bujumbura - A senior commander of Burundi's former Hutu rebel movement, the National Liberation Forces (FNL), integrated into the regular army in 2009, has gone missing, an army spokesperson said on Thursday.

The statement came amid rumours that the ex-rebel commander was killed or wounded with other former FNL rebels while they attempted to join their former leader Agathon Rwasa, who quit politics and went back into the bush at the end of June.

"According to my report, Major Aloys Nzapamema has been missing from duty since Friday 4 September... we consider that this officer is in an irregular situation," the spokesperson, Colonel Gaspard Baratuza said.

"We are waiting for the legal deadline of eight days to come up before we put out a 'wanted' message and if he doesn't come back in the meantime, we will start administrative measures aimed at having him revoked from the army," Baratuza said.

According to several sources Nzabampena, accompanied by three other officers, all former FNL men, was trying to get into the Rukoko swamp, 10km north-west of Bujumbura, where residents say a new fledgling rebel movement is grouping.

Rwasa's FNL laid down its weapons in April 2009 to join the political arena following a lengthy peace process that ended 13 years of civil war in the central African nation.

Burundi slipped back into a political crisis with the May 24 local polls which saw all opposition movements accuse President Pierre Nkurunziza's ruling party of rigging its way to re-election.

Rwasa had been seen as Nkurunziza's main rival in the June 28 presidential polls until he and all other candidates except the incumbent pulled out of the race in protest.