Burundi. Coup d’etat for democracy.

3 Apr

I give the order to disarm the civilian population and to withdraw all military equipment in the possession of civilians. I remind you that you are fully entitled to carry out these orders, and I invite you to bring to justice any civilian who is found in possession or are deploying weapons, military uniforms and communications equipment.” This is the dramatic order issued by the Burundian Minister of Defense: General Pontien Gaciyubwenge, Wednesday night. The order was issued to the main barracks, the regional commanders, brigade and battalion commanders. Even the police received the same order. The decision was taken without consulting Parliament, the President Pierre Nkurunziza and the Central Committee of the ruling party CNDD-FDD.

To make the order an irreversible decision, the General Gaciyubwenge proceeded to give a copy of it to the media asking the widest possible dissemination of the whole country. According to leaked internal to Burundian army the copy of the order gave to the media has been censored of some phrases to which the General authorize shoot down on the spot anyone who refuses to hand over its weapons and a warning to every soldier and policeman: in case of refusal to follow orders they will be automatically considered enemy of the nation and subjected to Martial Law. According to local witnesses in the capital, Bujumbura, the army has taken immediately action collecting weapons from civilians following probably a list previously drawn up. These civilians all belong to Imbonakure. At the moment there are no reports of clashes or armed resistance. The streets of the capital were quiet but deserted at night. The forced collection of weapons is facilitated because the General Gaciyubwenge is also supreme head of the CNDD-FDD former combatants that fought President Pierre Buyoya Tutsi regime between 1993 and 2004. General Gaciyubwenge enjoyed extreme respect between these veterans that are the hard core of the Imbonakure militia.

With this order the General Gaciyubwenge has practically announced a coup d’etat and declared the end of the genocidal militias Imbonakure, transformed into a sort of Praetorian Guard by President Nkurunziza who intended to use them to unleash civil war and genocide against the Tutsi minority in the country if the will be prevented to stand for upcoming elections or in the case of electoral defeat. The decision was so unexpected and radical that at the moment there are no official reactions from President Nkurunziza and his government. Knowing the prudence that has always characterized the military career of General Gaciyubwenge, a similar decision was definitely taken after ensuring the full support of the army. Otherwise, the General would have already been arrested and killed.

According to western diplomatic sources from Burundi the support would be ensured not only by the army but by the majority of police departments, the mainly opposition armed movement: National Liberation Front FNL and part of senior leaders of President Nkurunziza’s party: CNDD. For the first time in the country history the coup d’etat has no ethnic character and therefore may be fully supported by the Western powers, African Union and United Nation. It is a rebellion originated by the Army in order to defense all Burundian population whether Hutu or Tutsi are. Credible sources from Burundian civil society and diplomatic circles in Bujumbura, reveal the stages of the plan. The first is to neutralize the majority of Imbonakure militias in order to avoid their armed resistance in defense of the President. The second is to remove President Nkurunziza from power. The third is to proclaim a provisional government controlled by civilians and military. The fourth is to postpone the elections scheduled for 26 June 2015. The interim government would have the task of reorganizing the country, strengthen the democracy and to prepare free and transparent elections, the first in the Burundi history.

The military blitz implemented by General Gaciyubwenge has for the moment prevented Imbonakure militias to organize a defense and President Nkurunziza remains isolated in the Presidential Palace. The incognita is coming from 8,000 Rwandan FDLR terrorists settled in the north of Burundi, near Rwandan borders. FDLR leadership has recently pledged allegiance to President Nkurunziza. The FDLR are formed by former HutuPower Rwandan genocide militias that killed in 1994 almost one million of Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda. According to leaks from the Ugandan Intelligence, selected group of Rwandan soldiers, already present in Burundi in disguise of civilians, are waiting to receive the order from Kigali to militarily support the Burundian army and the General Gaciyubwenge if he will require the help of Rwanda to neutralize terrorists FDLR.

The coup d’etat has been secretly approved by the General Army Command and the Governments of Uganda and Rwanda, which may ensure their full military support in case of request. It seems highly unlikely that the FDLR will choose to fight against the Rwandan elite corps and Burundian army. Prolonged fighting would risk to provoke the Ugandan army intervention. In that case the FDLR would find themselves surrounded and doomed to destruction. One solution would be to go beyond the Tanzanian border, but the latest statements of Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete seem to exclude to FDLR this possibility. The only possibility to avoid military confrontation for FDLR is to go back to in neighboring Congo where these terrorists still enjoy the protection of President Joseph Kabila.

President Kikwete called on Monday his Burundi counterpart to respect the agreements of the Arusha Peace and Burundian Constitution warning President Nkurunziza to don’t stand for election for a third term. This is an historic and unexpected declaration done by President Kikwete, known sympathizer of the Hutupower cause and FDLR defender. In 2013 President Kikwete had asked to the Rwandan government to accept FDLR terrorist group as a political party and forming with it a government of national unity. The request had opened a long season of cold war between Tanzania and Rwanda with a lot of divisions on the border. The Tanzania choice to take the side of peace and democracy in the region strengthens the process of political and economic unity of the East African Community and will have serious repercussions on the neighboring Congo where Tanzania has the elite troops alongside the UN mission of peace: MONUSCO These troops are supposed to fight FDLR.

In the week before the start of the coup d’etat there have been several signals in the direction of a radical change in the balance of power. The General Secretary of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon had telephoned to President Nkurunziza asking to respect the Constitution and not to stand for election. The March 26, 2015 at the Belgian parliament (known protector of HutuPower cause and President Nkurunziza) had approved the resolution number 54K0722 on the situation in its former colony: Burundi. The resolution impose to the federal government to request to President Nkurunziza unconditional respect for the Constitution and to renounce the third term. The bishops of the Catholic Episcopal Conference of Burundi have address to President Nkurunziza a letter of harsh condemnation, inviting all Burundian Catholic faithful to nine days of prayers for the change of regime in Burundi.

There is no news about which decision President Nkurunziza will take bef to face this coup d’etat. At the moment it seems premature declare the success of the coup and the restoration of democracy in the country. Nkurunziza could reorganize the HutuPower forces remained loyal to him and try to maintain the power by force. This would mean a horrific bloodbath in Burundi and a preventive invasion of Uganda and Rwanda armies. Perhaps Nkurunziza, in a rare moment of lucidity, will realize to be one of the last exponents of reactionary obscure forces linked to genocide that dominated the horrible past of the two twins countries: Burundi and Rwanda. Now the Burundian people and the Great Lakes peoples in general wants a different future where machetes and tribal wars will be replaced by democracy, human rights respect, freedom, ethnic coexistence and economic development for all. Afircan Voices will follow closely the evolution of events in Burundi.


Fulvio Beltrami
Africa Reporter



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