Nkurunziza dividing nation, says Burundi general

2015-07-10 09:24
Pierre Nkurunziza. (File: AFP)

Pierre Nkurunziza. (File: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kampala - A Burundi general who was part of a failed coup attempt in May said his group was still working to oust President Pierre Nkurunziza, accusing him of stoking ethnic divisions in a country still trying to recover from civil war.

"At that time [in May], we just failed to remove Nkurunziza from power," General Leonard Ngendakumana told Reuters in an interview on Thursday outside Burundi. "The aim is still there."

The president, whom Ngendakumana served as a senior intelligence officer in government and during the civil war as a rebel fighter, has plunged Burundi into its deepest political crisis for a decade by seeking a third five-year term.

Opponents say the president's re-election bid violates the constitution and a peace deal that in 2005 ended the civil war, which had pitted majority Hutu rebel groups, like the one led by Nkurunziza, against the army, then led by minority Tutsis.

Nkurunziza cites a court ruling saying he can run again.

Ethnic tensions

Government officials dismiss charges that Nkurunziza, who has Hutu and Tutsi parents, has divided the nation on ethnic lines and say his opponents are stirring trouble because they fear defeat in a presidential vote, set for next week.

Ngendakumana, 46, who asked that his precise location was not disclosed, said the president and his allies were behind stoking ethnic tensions and were arming the ruling CNDD-FDD's youth-wing Imbonerakure, widely seen as a Hutu force.

"This situation can lead to a genocide," he said.

Next door Rwanda, with the same ethnic mix, suffered a genocide in 1994 that killed 800,000, mostly Tutsis as well as moderate Hutus.

The United Nations, African states and Western nations have also expressed alarm about the arming of Imbonerakure.

More than 140 000 Burundians have fled the country. The UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Thursday that many refugees had cited "Imbonerakure militia as the main threat".

International pressure

CNDD-FDD officials deny charges its youths have been armed. They say it is a mixed ethnic group that is devoted to political campaigns and other party activities.

Ngendakumana, a Hutu who was fired from his intelligence post in February after helping write a report for the president advising him not to run again, said international pressure on the president had failed.

"The only way to reach this objective is to use force," he said, adding that he was working with coup leader General Godefroid Niyombare and in "organising ourselves in military units" to help protect people from police or Imbonerakure.

Protesters have regularly clashed with police.

Presidential spokesman Gervais Abayeho said anyone threatening Burundi's security "will meet the full force of our defence and security forces."

Ngendakumana said the international community could ratchet up the pressure by delivering on threats to impose sanctions.

"If political pressure has failed, the international community should jump to another stage," he said.

The United States and the European Union have threatened sanctions against those it blames for stoking violence.

Read more on:    pierre nkurunziza  |  burundi  |  east africa  |  burundi elections 2015

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.