Burundi says Belgium behind plot to overthrow president

2015-11-20 18:56
Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza. (Marco Longari, AFP)

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza. (Marco Longari, AFP)

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

Brussels - Burundi's government has accused its former colonial ruler Belgium of instigating an attempted coup against President Pierre Nkurunziza in May - a charge Belgium called absurd.

Army officers unhappy with Nkurunziza's bid to seek a third term as leader tried to seize power while he was on an official visit to neighbouring Tanzania.

"We blame Belgium because all the plotters of the coup are in Belgium. The Belgians have given them accommodation and are looking after them. We blame them for the coup," Willy Nyamitwe, spokesman for President Nkurunziza, told Al Jazeera.

"We blame them for the 1972 genocide that happened in this country. They are responsible for all the difficulties our country is facing," Nyamitwe said from the capital, Bujumbura, over the phone.

"Belgium divided Burundians into Hutu and Tutsis. They claim to be a friend of Burundi but their actions are unfriendly," he added.

A Belgian spokesperson told Al Jazeera that it categorically denied the Burundian government's allegations.

"These accusations are absurd," Didier Vanderhasselt, spokesman for Belgium's foreign ministry, said.

"We call on the Burundi government to hold dialogue with the opposition in the framework of the Arusha agreement. We prefer to convey our message through diplomatic channels and not get involved in a tit-for-tat with Burundi," he said by phone.

At least 240 people have been killed and more than 200 000 have fled the country since violence erupted in April after Nkurunziza's decision to seek another term - a decision the opposition condemned as unconstitutional.

"The security situation has deteriorated a lot in the past few months," Vanderhasselt said. 

"Therefore, some people have been seeking refuge in Belgium and there is no other reason for their presence here. People are escaping the deteriorating security situation. It is up to relevant judicial authorities to judge." 

Nkurunziza, a former rebel commander, went on to win presidential elections in July, which were boycotted by the opposition and marred by violence and a police crackdown.

Last week, Belgium advised its nearly 500 nationals in the country to leave, a decision Burundi saw as political. The EU has also evacuated the families of its remaining staff in the country.

"The situation in our country is coming back to normal," Nyamitwe told Al Jazeera. "Like everywhere else in the world some terrorist acts can be noticed but that's very sporadic. The situation is much better than it was five or six months ago. It is unfair of them [Belgium and the EU] to remove their citizens." 

The Belgian government denied Bujumbura's allegations, saying: "The security situation in Bujumbura and Burundi in general has been deteriorating. The only criteria for our travel advice is the security of our citizens. Our security advice does not include political judgement or point of view."

Belgium has long had fractious relations with Burundi and neighbouring Rwanda.

Read more on:    eu  |  pierre nkurunziza  |  burundi  |  belgium  |  east africa

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.

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.